VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Three students at Ocean Lakes High School were arrested for making threatening comments online about a teacher, a spokesperson with the Virginia Beach Police Department (VBPD) said.
Investigators said it started when someone reported the threatening comments Thursday morning. School Resource Officers did not find any weapons on school grounds. Officers arrested the three students at the high school Thursday.
A spokeswoman for VBPD confirmed each student arrested is under the age of 18, so she was not able to release their identities. She also said she could not tell us what the message said.
The spokeswoman said depending on the developments in the threat investigation, even more students could face charges in this case.
"Unfortunately, it's becoming more and more common," said Lt. Kevin Lokey who works with the Virginia Beach Police Youth Services Unit. "For the school, for the student, you're looking at fear. First and foremost, fear. Who wants to go to school having to worry about being a victim, being targeted, whether you're a teacher or a student?"
He said actions may speak louder than words, but in this case, the consequences are still severe.
"You need to think long-term. If it's put into writing, it's actually a felony," said Lt. Lokey. "If convicted, it could be anything from community service to actual detention...and typically, there's at least one night of detention before court happens."
The threat comes after a series of incidents at other divisions in Hampton Roads where students either made threats against schools or brought handguns on school property. It's a serious concern Lt. Lokey hopes parents don't take lightly, either.
"It's not a joking matter, so talk to your kids," Lt. Lokey said. "Make sure they understand. Rule of thumb is if you wouldn't say it in front of your mom or your principal, you shouldn't put it in writing."
13News Now spoke to a few parents as they picked up their children from Ocean Lakes High School. They called the series of threats across Hampton Roads frustrating because they want to feel like their children are safe at school.
"It's just a sad and scary situation," said one mother who was waiting to pick up her son. She said her other son goes to a different school where they just had to deal with a separate incident.
A spokesperson with the school division shared a message sent to Ocean Lakes families about the incident. You can read the full email below:
"Good evening, Ocean Lakes families. This is Principal Claire LeBlanc calling with an important message regarding school safety. Earlier today police arrested multiple students for making threatening comments online about a teacher at our school. The matter continues to be investigated by the Virginia Beach Police Department and could lead to more arrests.
With the safety and security of our students and staff as our top priority, we must take every threat seriously. Those responsible will face very real consequences, up to and including expulsion from school as well as criminal charges. I ask that you use this as a way to remind your children that threats of any kind are not acceptable and will not be tolerated.
As always, if students see or hear something concerning, they should report it immediately to police or an adult. Thank you for your cooperation and partnership in reinforcing these important safety reminders, and for your continued support of Ocean Lakes High School."
Virginia Beach City Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Aaron Spence plans to hold an open discussion Tuesday to talk about the latest safety protocols within the school division.
He called student safety his "top priority."