Source of Petal social media threats identified

Source of Petal social media threats identified

PETAL, MS (WDAM) - The Petal School District has concluded an investigation into social media threats made over the weekend.

The student responsible for the false threats, which were made over Snapchat, has been identified following a full investigation over a 36-hour period, according to a Petal School press release. Authorities are confident the juvenile acted alone and the student is being disciplined to the fullest extent under school policy.

Petal Superintendent Dr. Matt Dillon released the following statement:

"We cannot tolerate inaccurate posts made by anyone that causes a disruption to our school
environment. It is unfortunate the irresponsible actions of a student caused such turmoil in our
schools and community. We take every perceived threat seriously. Our district will always do
what is necessary to ensure the safety of our students and staff. As powerful as social media can
be as a communication tool, a post that isn't true can create an unnecessary disruption for our
schools. When misinformation is shared it desensitizes awareness of real issues. That's why
responsible use of social media is so important. We urge all students, parents, and community
members to contact appropriate authorities anytime there is a concern for safety. We appreciate
the many parents and community members who offered their prayers and support as we dealt
with this situation. In addition, we are thankful for the efforts of the Petal Police Department,
Forrest County Sheriff's Office, and the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation for their assistance.
As always, our faculty and staff do an amazing job of providing a safe and sound educational
environment."

The social media threats had parents on high alert, but they maintained confidence in the school district's ability to handle the situation. Buffy Morris and Wyn Mims both teach in the Petal School District, and they both have children who attend the high school.

"Officially getting the news from the school district so quickly gave us a sense of calmness. I don't teach my children to live in fear," Mims said.

"I have felt safe all day. It's just been a normal day. The kids have been great, and I think that everything has run smoothly," said Morris.

Morris and Mims said the school district handled the situation quickly and effectively, but it's still a conversation ever parent should have with their children.

The threats were investigated by the Petal Police Department, Forrest County Sheriff's Department and Mississippi Bureau of Investigation.