School threats in N.J., Pa. bring 1 arrest, concern

DEPTFORD, N.J. (WPVI) -- During a time when many people are on edge after the school shooting in southern Florida, several districts in our area have been dealing with threats - and rumors of threats - of violence.

A 15-year-old West Deptford resident was arrested Friday morning after police were notified by West Deptford High School administration that a message had been posted on Snapchat that included threats of "shooting up West Deptford."

The student was identified and officers responded to the residence and took the teen into custody.

In a separate incident, the Deptford Township Criminal Investigations Division started looking into social media posts Thursday night from someone warning that there would be a school shooting Friday at the Gloucester County Institute of Technology.

As a result, the school opened with a strong police presence Friday morning.
"It's scary," said one parent. "It's a scary situation, but it happens."

Susan Ferrara's daughter saw the unsettling messages on a popular social media app.

"She saw it on Snapchat, so she came up and told me about it," said Ferrara, who is from Woodbury Heights.

The school district sent out alerts and emails Thursday night notifying parents that officials were working with law enforcement to look into the matter.

Friday morning parents were told that the source of the threats had been identified and immediate action was taken.

But Deptford Township isn't the only school district dealing with rumors and threats of violence.

In Bucks County, Pennridge School District Superintendent Jacqueline Rattigan sent out an email to parents Thursday saying:

"In the last several days, we have investigated -- and quickly deemed non-credible -- a number of rumors surrounding threats of violence at the high school."

On the same day, there was a similar scare 45 miles away, at Truman High School in Bristol Township.

The school district issued a statement saying, in part:

"We were notified by a student of a rumor that a student was planning to either shoot up the school or shoot him/herself during one of the assemblies tomorrow (Friday). Through an investigation we were able to identify the student that started the rumor and verify that the rumor was started as a result of a dare during lunch."

Although immediate action was taken in all these incidents, parents say the situation has forced them to have tough but necessary conversations with their children.

Back in Deptford Township, police told Action News they continue to remain vigilant.

And school officials continue to reassure parents and students that they will continue their aggressive response to these matters.

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