OAK RIDGE, Tenn. — UPDATE (12/8/21): Seventh District Attorney General Dave Clark said three juveniles are now charged with terrorism after making social media threats toward Oak Ridge High School in two separate hoaxes this week.
The Oak Ridge Police Department said two of the students were connected to a social media shooting threat made Monday that caused Oak Ridge High School to go on lockdown. A third student was responsible for a separate threat to the high school made Tuesday night, according to ORPD.
"We are concerned to see that two such incidents have occurred in the same week," Clark said.
Authorities are not identifying the three because they are juveniles, but Clark said all three were taken to the Knox County Juvenile Detention Center Wednesday afternoon and are being charged in Juvenile Court with terrorism, threat of mass violence on school property and false reporting. Two of the juveniles are also being charged with conspiracy.
"The message should be loud and clear to adults and juveniles alike that making threats over social media or in any way that are directed at our schools, children or staff will not be tolerated," Clark said. "This is a very serious matter and the law enforcement community and the judicial system in Anderson County will respond accordingly."
Police said two ORHS students admitted to making one of the threats Tuesday, saying police determined no weapon was ever involved.
On Wednesday, Dec. 8, Oak Ridge Schools sent out a message to all families saying the actions of the three students caused major disruptions to school with the intent to create fear and cause school closures, and said any incidents like this would be addressed with "severe consequences."
"Moving forward, we will continue to address all threats as being serious and will immediately reach out to the Oak Ridge Police Department for support," the school system said.
The three students have been restricted from attending school:
"The positive news is that none of these students had access to weapons nor did they have plans to harm students or staff. Their sole purpose was to disrupt classes, create fear and cause a school closure, which is disappointing. Moving forward, we will continue to address all threats as being serious and will immediately reach out to the Oak Ridge Police Department for support. The ORPD has done an excellent job and will continue to investigate and assess the credibility of such threats. Regardless of intent, any student making a threat will be expelled, pending due process, and will face criminal charges."
Oak Ridge High School students were released on time Monday after one of the threats prompted a lockdown.
On Monday, the city said someone had made a shooting threat on social media. The school went on a "level 3" lockdown, which means no one is allowed to enter or exit the school until school is dismissed, but classes continue as normal with the doors locked.
Students were released from school at normal release time and police took necessary precautions to ensure they were able to go home safely as the investigation continues.
In a letter to parents Monday evening, Oak Ridge Schools said it chose to put the school on lockdown out of an abundance of caution.
"Safety is our top priority so, based on many factors, we chose to stay in a level three lockdown out of an abundance of caution today. I want to thank our students who came forward and notified the ORHS administration immediately after seeing this social media post. Finally, we thank our parents for their patience as we dealt with this issue."