A total of five West Palm Beach schools were placed on lockdown after receiving individual threats from an unknown person or persons. Among them, Conniston Middle School and Wynnebrook Elementary School received individual threats. In addition, three other West Palm Beach schools received similar threats. After the threats were deemed to not be credible, the lockdowns were lifted and the children were dismissed.
What Happens During a School Lockdown?
Essentially, during a lockdown, the students are kept in place and all exits and entrances are barricaded in. This is largely in response to the idea that the threat is external as opposed to internal.
Depending on what kind of threat the police received, it makes sense to barricade the entrances. Typically, students can’t get away with carrying an AR-15 out into the open. On the other hand, if the threat was from a bomb, then a student could have snuck the bomb into school, and deployed it.
Different protocols are in place for different types of situations. In the case of an active shooter situation or, as in this case, a threat of an active shooter, barricading the doors to deny entry is a way to secure an environment against an external threat. In these cases, students would be kept inside classrooms while teachers would pull down blinds, turn off lights, and instruct students to stay clear or below window lines.
Threats Against Schools are a Crime
Making a threat, whether credible or otherwise, against a school is both a federal and a state crime in Florida. However, there are three elements that must be shown to prove and one of them is the ability to carry out that threat. However, federal law makes it prosecutable even when the threat is not credible.
The FBI has issued an advisory in the wake of school shootings to ensure that students and others who would attempt to cause public panic understand that their actions have serious consequences. Threats made over social media, by text, or over the phone are considered “threatening interstate communications” and can come with a prison sentence of up to five years.
Why Multiple Schools?
Typically, threats are phoned in by students of a school who have a grudge or a problem with other students or faculty. However, the fact that there were five schools targeted on the same day seems to indicate something else was at work. Since threats against schools are considered urgent problems, they divert law enforcement resources while the problem is resolved at great cost to taxpayers. While burner phones provide some level of anonymity and texts can be sent over the internet, there are ways to trace such threats. Law enforcement is also asking the public to come forward with any information they have.
Talk to a West Palm Beach Criminal Defense Attorney
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