FBI determines alleged threat of area school violence not credible
Wednesday, February 13, 2013 12:00 AM
An investigation initiated by the FBI determined that generalized but non-specific comments about school violence allegedly posted over the Internet on Jan. 4 by a Neshoba County man posed no credible threat to area schools, the authorities said.
Philadelphia Superintendent of Education Terry Larabee notified his administrators, teachers and other staff members about the investigation Monday afternoon after rumors began to spread on campus.
The rumors stemmed from emails and Facebook posts to teachers, he said, noting that some were coming from the Union area.
The man, who was not charged, was questioned by local, state and federal authorities in connection with the Internet posts.
The Mississippi Bureau of Investigation and the FBI out of Jackson investigated the threat made toward an unspecified school in the Neshoba/Newton County area, Philadelphia Police Chief Bill Cox and Sheriff's Investigator Ralph Sciple confirmed on Monday.
The subject involved has been questioned and is currently being monitored by state and federal agencies, they said.
"The man had been talking to individuals over the Internet, including [on the website] Anonymous, about doing violence at a school," Sciple said.
He was arrested on an old fine in Decatur where authorities questioned him at the jail there about the alleged posts, he said.
Sciple said officials also searched the man's house and did not find any weaponry.
The man was released from custody on Friday.
Local authorities, in conjunction with the state and federal authorities, have taken steps to increase security at area schools.
Philadelphia and Neshoba County public school superintendents said Monday they were both "stepping up security" in the wake of the alleged threat.
"We are closely monitoring people on our campus," Dr. Larabee of Philadelphia Schools said.
He and Neshoba Superintendent Tommy Dearing said school officials were also closely monitoring their campuses over their surveillance cameras.
An official with the FBI's office in Jackson updated both city and county school officials on the investigation during Monday night's county School Board meeting during an executive session.
Dr. Larabee issued a statement after that meeting.
"We have no reason to believe that our schools are at risk due to the threat," he said. "The FBI has investigated and determined that the subject in question does not pose a credible threat. However, local agencies, in conjunction with state and federal authorities, have taken steps to increase security at area schools. While there has not been a specific threat to our students, our administration always takes the safety of our students seriously."
A regularly scheduled lockdown drill was conducted in all city schools on Monday and monitored by local law enforcement, he said.