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Pinellas parents take precautions against non-credible school threat

The racist social media message said there would be a shooting at an unnamed school.

Dozens of parents at Lakewood High and, to a lesser extent, Pinellas Park High, removed their children from those campuses early Monday amid unsubstantiated threats that a shooter planned to kill “at least 30 people,” all of whom would be Black.

Although the social media message that circulated late Sunday did not name a school, at least one person who circulated it wrote that the activity was “supposed to be going on at Lakewood or Pinellas Park.”

Alerted to the concerns by a student, the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office investigated and determined the threat did not originate in Florida and did not appear credible.

“We do not believe, at this time, there is a legitimate threat to area schools,” Corporal Travis Sibley said Monday.

To alleviate fears, the department sent extra deputies to campuses for security and an added presence, Sibley said via email.

District principals also sent phone and written messages to families to alert them to the situation. They stressed that the actions described in the social media post did not appear likely, but added that the extra show of law enforcement was offered out of an abundance of caution.

“We appreciate when anyone comes forward with a safety concern and all reports are investigated fully,” the statement read.

District officials said they take all such reports seriously, and encouraged students and others to continue alerting them if they learn of potential threats.

“We encourage students and parents to contact authorities immediately and to always remember, if you see something, say something,” Sibley added.