‘The threats need to stop’: Roanoke parent speaks out on recent school threats

Roanoke City parents, mayor react to school shooting threats

ROANOKE, Va.UPDATE

Both charges against a Roanoke man, Stephen Johnson, accused of making school threats have been dismissed.

Roanoke Commonwealth’s Attorney Donald Caldwell said he was not involved in the incident.

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ORIGINAL STORY

A 35-year-old man is charged with making threats against Roanoke City Public Schools.

Police said Stephen Johnson posted several threatening messages Wednesday night to a Snapchat group used by Patrick Henry High School students.

This is the second day this week threats have been made against Roanoke City Public Schools. Wednesday, the school district told 10 News that Patrick Henry High School was placed on a “hold and secure” as police investigated a threat they ultimately found was not credible.

Parents are now left in limbo, wondering if these kinds of school threats will ever stop.

Taylor Rockwood has two children at Grandin Court Elementary School where a fifh grader threatened to kill other students, teachers and even police back in October. But parents weren’t told about the threat until months later, sparking calls for change.

“If that means that this was handled differently and hopefully better, then I’m glad to see that the effects of the strong parent engagement at Grandin has allowed this to play out in that way,” said Rockwood. “I think a lot of parents are feeling like this needs to stop. The threats need to stop.”

10 News asked Rockwood about whether social media is good or bad for threats. On one hand, the word can get around but then it can also cause false panic if the threat isn’t substantiated.

That’s so tough because like I said, ‘How did I hear about this, last night on Facebook?’ I don’t have the answer. I think there will be a lot more conversation surrounding it going forward though,” Rockwood said.

Paola Beltran has a daughter who attends Fishwick Middle School. Throughout the day and into the night she still couldn’t stop thinking about what was next.

“Every day it’s a battle for me in my head...wanting my kids to come home safe,” Beltran said. ““I feel relief but not 100% because it’s still in my head, is there going to be another threat by somebody else? What’s going to happen next,”

Mayor Sherman Lea is pleading with parents to lock up their firearms.

“I’m calling on parents to make sure that your guns and things that you may have are in a secure place and are not accessible to your children,” said Lea.

Meanwhile, Roanoke City Public Schools released a statement, asking parents to “...monitor your child’s social media and talk with them about the consequences of making threats. Actual threats or jokes about threats will not be tolerated and will result in disciplinary actions and may be punishable by law.”

Roanoke Police warned, “We will do all we can to hold those who threaten the safety of our students and staff accountable for their actions.”

Roanoke City Public Schools will also be closed on Friday, Feb. 23, to investigate the additional threats made.


About the Authors

You can watch Lindsey during Virginia Today every weekend or as a reporter during the week!

Connor Dietrich joined the 10 News team in June 2022. Originally from Castle Rock, Colorado, he's ready to step away from the Rockies and step into the Blue Ridge scenery.