OXNARD (CBSLA) — Schools are taking extra safety measures Friday due to a rise in threats being posted on social media, particularly on TikTok, according to school officials across Southern California.
Irvine police say they confiscated an airsoft toy gun Friday after officials at South Lake MS got a report of a student showing a firearm to classmates. The campus was briefly placed on lockdown, but Irvine police say there is no threat the school.READ MORE: Garcetti Nominates LAFD’s First Ever Female Fire Chief
Rumors circulating on TikTok, specifying threats of violence at campuses nationwide Friday had school officials and parents on edge across the country.
“While these threats are unsubstantiated and do not mention Ventura County schools specifically, some local schools may be taking extra safety measures around their campuses on December 17,” a statement from the Office of Education said. Officials later said the threats were spreading to other platforms, including Instagram and Snapchat.
Seal Beach police said they also became aware of the threats Thursday and have taken the precaution of increasing patrols around McGaugh Elementary School, even though none of the threats specified that campus or any other in Orange County.
School officials in Culver City, Santa Clarita, Simi Valley, Long Beach, and Los Angeles also said they were aware of the social media threats, but there is no reason to believe any of its campuses are in danger.
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Important message from @laschools regarding keeping our schools safe. We look forward to seeing everyone at school tomorrow!
Mensaje importante del Distrito Unificado de Los Ángeles sobre cómo mantener nuestras escuelas seguras. ¡Esperamos verlos a todos en la escuela mañana! pic.twitter.com/v2dt0X2v66
— Los Angeles Unified (@LASchools) December 17, 2021
The Department of Homeland Security says they were also aware of threats to schools on Friday, but didn’t have information indicating specific, credible threats.
DHS will continue to monitor and keep the public and our partners informed. Individuals should report suspicious activity to local law enforcement. If you see something, say something.https://t.co/2Lqk9Yrcui
— Homeland Security (@DHSgov) December 17, 2021
School officials say they take every threat seriously, and students should take care not to re-post threats as they create a cycle of fear and can complicate a law enforcement investigation. Students who make threats, even if they were intended as a joke, face suspension and possible expulsion, along with criminal charges.
Just last week, four students were arrested for posting threats on social media against Oxnard-area high schools, according to Oxnard police. A 14-year-old freshman was arrested this week amid the ongoing investigation into social media threats of a shooting at Oxnard High School, and a 17-year-old 11th grade student was arrested in a separate incident in connection with a social media threat circulating last week of a shooting planned at Hueneme High School for Wednesday.
Both students admitted to making the threats as a joke, police said, as did two other students who were arrested last week for posting a threat against Pacifica High School.MORE NEWS: Federal Site For Free, At-Home COVID-19 Tests Goes Live A Day Early
Those weren’t the only school threat investigations that happened this week. In neighboring Los Angeles County, the Los Angeles School District Police investigated a threat to Brentwood Science Magnet School after school officials became aware of “an incident that raised concerns” on Monday. The investigation ultimately deemed there was no threat to the campus, LA Unified School District officials said. And further east, Corona police say they launched an investigation Wednesday into a threat against Auburndale Intermediate School that ended with the arrest of a 14-year-old at his home in the 100 block of North Buena Vista, where no weapons were found.