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Days after Newport News shooting, several Hampton Roads cities investigate school threats

Several schools in Hampton Roads have seen threats made against them on social media, days after two students were shot at Heritage High School in Newport News.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Police and school officials in Hampton Roads say they are seeing an increase in school threats, days after a shooting at Heritage High School in Newport News left two students injured.

So far on Wednesday, Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Portsmouth and Chesapeake have each reported threats they're investigating.

In a statement to 13News Now, Virginia Beach City Public Schools spokesperson Sondra Woodward said "it is not uncommon for there to be an uptick in reports and rumors of threats to school communities" in the aftermath of an incident like the Heritage shooting.

"Our Office of Safe Schools is closely monitoring social media and works with the Virginia Beach Police Department in assessing possible threats. We notify families based on guidance from VBPD, our Office of Safe Schools and in collaboration with our school leadership team," Woodward said.

At least two Virginia Beach schools -- Kempsville High School and Green Run High School -- saw social media threats made on Wednesday. The principals of both schools sent messages to parents saying all students are safe and that there is an extra police presence "out of an abundance of caution."

Virginia Beach police said in a tweet, "Most of the threats are anonymous and turn out to be hoaxes."

School officials urge any student who hears something concerning to report it to an adult or police immediately, and not spread it through social media or gossip.

RELATED: Arrest made following Phoebus High School threat

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Brian Haughinberry, the principal of Deep Creek High School in Chesapeake, said students there would have a "supervised dismissal" Wednesday afternoon.

He said their team learned about "a potential safety concern" in the afternoon, and even though there was "no evidence of a credible threat," police officers would help with dismissal.

Deep Creek High School won't have any after-school or evening activities in the building.

In Norfolk, police confirm there have been threats made toward several Norfolk Public Schools. Police have also increased their presence on school campuses as a precaution, and an investigation is underway to identify the source of the social media posts.

Norfolk Police note that anyone who is found posting threats on social media "could be charged with a Class 6 Felony resulting in up to 12 months in jail and/or a $2500 fine."

The Portsmouth Police Department also tweeted about threats in their city. The spokesperson said the messages circulating were about Norcom High School, urging parents to pick up their children.

Investigators said they wouldn't tolerate threats against students, "however fake or bogus they may be."

"The Portsmouth Police Department is working closely with the Portsmouth Sheriff’s Office and Portsmouth Public Schools to ensure the safety of all students," the department wrote.

Officials with multiple police departments tell 13News Now they take every single threat seriously. 

“The message I would send to individuals who think it is funny to post those things, it’s not funny when you are sitting in front of a judge," said Newport News Police Chief Steve Drew. 

No matter what the threat is, Chief Drew said they beef up security at the schools.

“Even if there is just chatter, that hey something is going to happen, we send a message that we are not going to tolerate that," Chief Drew said.

Tuesday, a threat against Denbigh High school in Newport News and Phoebus High School in Hampton made its rounds on social media.

Hampton Police Captain Jason Price said they worked alongside Newport News Police to close this case in a matter of hours.

“We collaborated with the FBI’s joint terrorism task force," Capt. Price said.

Price said they arrested 20-year-old Nedko Coon from Newport News for allegedly making the post. He is charged with one count of threats of violence involving a school.

“You could get between 1 and 5 years in jail and up to a $2,500 fine," Capt. Price said.

If you have any information about any school threats, you're urged to call the Crime Line at 1-888-LOCK-U-UP. You can also submit a tip online at P3Tips.com.

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