UPDATE FROM PETERSBURG POLICE:
The Petersburg Bureau of Police received information about a threat of violence that would take place this Friday May 26, 2017 at Peabody Middle School. Police are investigating the threats and have been speaking with numerous students. The juvenile that allegedly made the threat has spoken to the police and has been released to his parent. Police will continue to investigate the threat by talking to more students. We are working with school officials to determine what resources should be allocated to the situation. The school will see an increase in officers throughout the week. At this time no charges have been filed in the case.
PETERSBURG, Va. -- While students at Peabody Middle School took SOL exams Wednesday, Petersburg Police investigated a potential threat at the school. Word about a potential shooting at the school started spreading on social media the day before.
Petersburg Police Lt. Chris Walker said the situation stemmed from a fight involving a group of boys last week. According to one mom's Facebook post, one of the boys told her son he was going to retaliate.
"Certainly anytime you get a statement made you have to do terming the validity of the threat. So we're looking into number one does the child have the means or the opportunity to commit a crime,” Lt. Walker said.
Caprice Wilson's oldest daughter is a 7th grader at Peabody.
She said she - and other parents - were concerned.
"My child shouldn't have to feel like she can't be safe at school,” said Wilson. "My child's 13. She shouldn't be worrying about people coming to shoot at her school."
Wilson said some parents were debating whether or not to keep their kids at home.
"I have to keep my kids safe. And if I have to take my kids out of school, then I will do so,” she said.
Lt. Walker said officers did not know yet if the threat was valid, but added there was no need to keep students from school.
"We certainly provide a safe environment for the children to Petersburg, we have school resource officers at the school, we have extra bodies at the school this week, so your children are safe,” he said.
But Wilson said a history of violence at the school worries her. She said the violence and threats would not stop unless parents stepped up.
"The way certain kids are raised in the atmosphere they have a home, I know it's not going to stop. It's going to be an everyday thing,” said Wilson.
A spokesperson for Petersburg City Public Schools said school leaders were working with the police and that they took reports like this one very seriously.
The school sent the following message to student families Wednesday:
Today the Police Department has investigated information received about Peabody Middle School and has taken appropriate measures and has deemed our school safe.
The safety of our students and staff members is a priority. Peabody Middle School is working closely with the Petersburg Police Department as police officers investigate the situation. We wanted to share with you the information that the Police Department has taken appropriate measures and has deemed our school safe.
To help reassure students and parents, we will continue to use metal detectors at Peabody.
Maintaining a safe and supportive environment is a top priority at Peabody Middle School and throughout Petersburg City Public Schools.