Police: No credibility to 9/11 social media threats about violence

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KINGSPORT, TN (WJHL) – Police in one of the Tri-Cities say they’ll be on high alert tomorrow after Facebook threats of violence in schools.

Kingsport Police confirmed they’ve heard the online talk about violence marking the 9/11 anniversary.

We’ve heard from multiple viewers tonight from around the Tri-Cities Region who’ve read about it on the internet and who are concerned – especially parents with school-aged children.

According to multiple news reports, the rumors aren’t limited to the Tri-Cities.  News agencies across the country reported Thursday night that the threats began with an online post referencing a Black Panthers attacked planned for Friday.

Kingsport Police spokesman Tom Patton said his department takes all threats seriously.

But Patton said, “We have thoroughly investigated the allegations and have found absolutely zero evidence to verify or give any credibility to these threats on a local level here in Kingsport.  Nonetheless, we will absolutely be operating on an increased alert level on Friday.”

A caller to the News Channel 11 newsroom said she’s worried about her grandchildren attending school tomorrow.

Kingsport City Schools issued a statement Thursday night said they have become aware of the social media threats.

We have become aware of widespread internet-based rumors concerning threats of school violence on Friday, September 11th. These threats have been very general in nature and have not even named any specific city or any specific school system, but we certainly understand how it might be of concern to you. We wanted to keep you up to speed tonight on how this was being addressed. Kingsport City Schools has been in ongoing contact with the Kingsport Police Department, and these threats are being thoroughly investigated. Thus far, zero evidence has been found to verify or give any credibility to any of these internet rumors. But regardless of this fact, Kingsport City Schools and the Kingsport Police Department take any and all threats seriously. Additional precautions are being implemented and additional law enforcement resources are being deployed tomorrow throughout the district to ensure the safety of all students and school personnel.”

Sullivan County school officials also released the following statement Thursday night:

In the past few hours I have been made aware of threats of school violence that are appearing on social media nationwide. I have been in contact with the Sullivan County Sheriff’s Department and want to assure you that we are taking precautions in our schools regarding these internet rumors. As a result of these rumors, the Sheriff’s Department will provide additional resources in and around our schools tomorrow.”

Sullivan County officials went on to say they wanted parents to know they were aware of the internet rumors and are taking the necessary precautions.

“It’s a concern to me because so many people are terrified about this,” a caller from Kingsport said.  “I know at least ten people who aren’t sending their children to school tomorrow.”

The website Snopes.com labeled the rumor as “probably false.”Copyright 2015 WJHL. All rights reserved.

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