False Reports of Threats Against PWCS Schools Spark Rumors

Principals alert parents to rumors of threats of violence at 3 more PWCS schools

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This week Prince William County Schools experienced two false reports of violence against two Woodbridge-area high schools: Woodbridge Sr. High School and C.D Hylton High School. 

Later in the week, rumors circulated of three more threats against Woodbridge area schools: Gar-field High School in Woodbridge, Potomac Senior High School in Dumfries and Potomac Shores Middle School in Dumfries. 

Woodbridge Sr. High School on Old Bridge Road in Lake Ridge received a false report of a shooting, Tuesday.  

There was a false report of violence made against Hylton High School located on Spriggs Road in Woodbridge, Wednesday. 

Prince William Police received a false report of a shooting at Woodbridge Sr. High School around 11 a.m. on Nov. 9 and quickly secured the building. 

Police communicated the threat via its social media pages. PWCS sent a notice to the entire community and PWC Alerts alerted its subscribers to the incident.

All communications indicated that police believed the incident to be a false report based upon what they saw at the school. 

"Officers conducted a methodical search of the Woodbridge High School grounds which resulted in no evidence of a shooting being found and no injuries reported," reported Prince William Police on social media. 

"After completing the search of the grounds, the call was determined to be unfounded and the school resumed operations as police began to demobilize from the area. Officers plan to remain at the school through dismissal for security purposes," said the final update online. 

On Wednesday, police receive notice of a threat of violence against Hylton High School. Again, police arrived at the school and secured the building. 

Police reported the incident to the public via social media. PWCS sent notices to parents of students attending area schools, but did not send a division-wide announcement. 

On Thursday evening, three schools heard "rumors" of threats of violence at their schools: Garfield High School, Potomac High School and Potomac Shores Middle School. 

Principals at those schools sent emails to parents that included the same text. They said they were would be bringing in additional security out of "an abundance of caution." 

Gar-field High School letter:

November 11, 2021

Dear Gar-Field High School Parents/Guardians:

The safety of our students and staff is our highest priority. I am writing to share with you that we are aware of a rumor of a threat to our school circulating among our students. All rumors of threats are treated seriously, and this was reported to the police for investigation. 

Out of an abundance of caution, we have asked for an additional security presence at our school tomorrow. Please reiterate with your student the importance of sharing any information that may be a cause for concern with a trusted adult or anyone at the school.

With everyone’s help, we can continue to keep our school a safe and effective place to learn. I appreciate your patience, cooperation and support.

Sincerely,

Matt Mathison

A spokesperson for the Prince William Police said that threats against schools take up significant resources. 

Making threats against a school is a Federal Crime, according to the FBI, even when such threats are a hoax. 

“The Bureau and its law enforcement partners take each threat seriously. We investigate and fully analyze each threat to determine its credibility,” said FBI Deputy Director David Bowdich, in an FBI article from 2018 entitled Think Before You Post: Hoax Threats are Serious Federal Crimes. 

“Hoax threats disrupt school, waste limited law enforcement resources, and put first responders in unnecessary danger."

"In addition to consequences for individuals who issue threats, there is also a significant societal cost. Law enforcement agencies have limited resources, and responding to hoax threats diverts officers and costs taxpayers. The threats can also cause severe emotional distress to students, school personnel, and parents."

As per the emails sent to parents, PWCS wants parents to remind their children that if they hear anything about a threat to tell a trusted adult, such as a teacher, administrator or SRO officer. 

Bristow Beat may update this article at a later time as we are seeking more information from the Prince William Police on these incidents. 

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