3 separate Central Texas school districts receive threats in just 24 hours
AUSTIN, Texas - Austin Police say an Austin ISD student is in custody charged with two felonies after making a school threat. In just the past 24 hours, three separate threats were made against school districts in Central Texas.
On Friday, a heavier police presence could be easily seen at both Austin ISD's Akins Early College High School and Round Rock ISD’s Westwood High School.
"We take every threat to be serious and potentially real," said Round Rock ISD Police Chief Dennis Weiner.
AISD says the threat against Akins was made on social media, the second threat made against the school within two days.
At Westwood High School, alarming graffiti with references to bombs and guns was reported inside one of the boys' restrooms and spread through social media. A RRISD spokesperson released this statement to FOX 7 Austin on Friday:
"Campus administration was alerted yesterday to the presence of some alarming graffiti in one of the boys’ restrooms at Westwood High School. Subsequently, photos of the graffiti were circulated on social media. The nature of the graffiti raised a safety concern with its reference to bombs and guns. Principal Erin Campbell communicated with parents and guardians about this last night. Round Rock ISD Police were involved immediately and began to investigate the situation and are partnering with the administration to conduct a threat assessment. This is an active investigation and there is no immediate threat to the campus. The Round Rock ISD police department and the Westwood administration are continuing to monitor for any additional information. There is an increased police presence on campus today."
Both school districts amped up law enforcement presence as an investigation was conducted.
"We also do a very intense investigation around the circumstances of that threat to understand if we can identify the individual making the threat, what the motivations may be and what the intention is, and what the capabilities of the individual may be," said Chief Weiner.
Chief Weiner says consequences for those who make the threat are serious and can land the student anywhere between two to ten years in jail even if the threat proves to be just a prank.
"I think the vast majority of these investigations end up either unresolved or leading us to believe it was a prank, but that doesn't minimize the risk that the real threat is out there. It's a class C felony which means that the student that's identified could be facing between two and ten years in prison for this conduct," he said.
For the threat made at Akins: Austin police arrested a juvenile student on charges of making a terroristic threat and online impersonation, both felony charges
For a threat made against Lockhart Junior High School last week, a student was arrested and now also faces a felony charge.
The threat at Westwood HS is still being investigated.
"This threat gives parents an opportunity to have the conversation with their students about the implications of making threats like this and what the outcomes could be on the rest of their life," said Chief Weiner.
Chief Weiner says in the end, it is not worth the jail time and a felony charge on a student's record. "I don't think any parent, any school administrator, any police officer wants to see a student face those kinds of ramifications for a prank," he said.
School districts encourage parents, staff, and students to report any threat they see.
Round Rock ISD has an anonymous reporting system available. To learn more, click here.