South Stanly High School evacuated after bomb threat

(AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

NORWOOD — Just three days after the Stanly County Sheriff’s Office announced that it had been investigating alleged threats of violence throughout the county’s school system, the students and staff of South Stanly High School were evacuated from the school’s facilities on April 28 following a called-in bomb threat.  

Stanly County Schools Superintendent Dr. Jarrod Dennis released a statement addressing the incident later that day. 

“At approximately 1:40 pm on April 28, 2023, South Stanly High School received an unsubstantiated out-of-state phone threat,” Dennis said. “The school followed its safety procedures while the Stanly County Sheriff’s Department arrived to investigate the incident.”  

Due to the proximity of the buildings, the sheriff’s office also placed South Stanly Middle School on lockdown while the investigation was underway. 

Dennis continued: “Out of an abundance of caution, and for the safety of everyone on the property, students and staff were escorted to a reunification site. Communication was sent directly to parents and guardians, informing them of the activity and processes taken. We would like to thank the parents, students, and school staff for their cooperation and patience during this time.” 

On April 25 — just days prior — the sheriff’s office posted on its social media page that it had been working to investigate violence threats that had arisen in various Stanly County schools. 

“In regards to the alleged threats that have been circulating throughout the Stanly County School System, investigators with the Stanly County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigation Division, School Resource Officers, and Stanly County School personnel have been working diligently with every school that was involved,” the sheriff’s office stated in a post. 

“Investigators have followed up on every tip that was received by law enforcement as well as tips that were provided to school officials. Subsequent to an extensive investigation, investigators determined that no threat was substantiated. The investigation will continue should any new information arise.” 

The sheriff’s office’s Facebook post is connected to an incident from the previous day. 

Around 9 p.m. on April 24, parents of students attending West Stanly Middle School received automated phone calls from the school alerting them that the district and local law enforcement were investigating social media threats of violence against the school.  

Underneath the sheriff’s office’s online post, a few users expressed concerns about the severity of the threats that had been deemed unsubstantiated. 

“I’m confused because there was literal proof on Snapchat of someone threatening Stanly County Schools,” one commenter wrote. “There is actual proof of the kid threatening this, and the majority of us have seen it. So, does this mean the kid is allowed back to school? Make this make sense for us,” another commenter wrote. 

Local law enforcement agencies are continuing to monitor the situations for both South Stanly High School and West Stanly Middle School, although the latest threats are not the first made against local schools this year — North Stanly High School was placed under lockdown on February 16. 

“We have received a report about a possible threat that was made to North Stanly High School,” the Stanly County School Board wrote in a statement that was shared with authorities in February. “The school was placed on lockdown while school and district administrators worked with law enforcement to investigate. It has been determined that the threat is not real. The lockdown has been lifted. We have resumed our regular activities. The safety of our students and staff is of the utmost importance, and we thank you for your support.” 

Anyone with information about former, current or future threats against schools is asked to contact the Stanly County Sheriff’s Office at 704-986-3714 or send a private message to the Sheriff’s Office Facebook page.