AUSTIN (KXAN) — Two juveniles are in custody Thursday in two unrelated cases of threats being made to schools in Williamson County, according to Sheriff Robert Chody.
Late Wednesday night, Chody announced a student was taken into custody after threats were made on Snapchat to Cedar Valley Middle School located at 8139 Racine Trail in Round Rock. The student, being a minor, is not named.
On Tuesday, Williamson County officials beefed up security at the school and various other schools in the county due to a threat made on Snapchat to “shoot up the school.” At the time, Chody said they believed the threat was of “foreign origin.”
A day later, a handgun was found in a neighborhood near Cedar Valley Middle School. At the time, officials said the gun was not found on campus and they didn’t believe it was related to the threat. No word Thursday if the gun remains unrelated to the threat.
Just a few hours after announcing the first arrest, Chody announced another juvenile was in custody in connection with threats made to Liberty Hill High School located at 16,500 State Route 29 in Liberty Hill. The two cases are unrelated.
This threat was made on Twitter, according to Liberty Hill ISD, and the post included a video of a student “holding what looked like an assault rifle.” The post allegedly said the suspect would “shoot up” the school.
“Out of courtesy and peace of mind for the community, we will continue to have law enforcement at schools for an undisclosed amount of time,” the sheriff’s office wrote. They don’t believe there is any threat to the public or the schools.
In a joint video statement, Chody and Liberty Hill Police Chief Maverick Campbell sought to ease fears and discuss the two arrests and security efforts by the two departments.
Cedar Valley threat
In a press briefing on Thursday afternoon on the Cedar Valley threat, Chody said that the initial investigation of the threat led to a Snapchat account outside the country, which made authorities believe it was not credible at the time. However, deputies sought the help of the FBI to track down the origin of the post.
On the first day of the investigation, Chody said it was determined that a local juvenile was playing within an online gaming system with another juvenile in Mexico. The two juveniles knew each other. In a chat between the two, the local juvenile shared some personal problems about Cedar Valley Middle School with the one in Mexico.
The juvenile in Mexico then offered to put out a threat via social media against the school. The local juvenile agreed to the plan and gave information on students and faculty and social media addresses, according to Chody.
In regard to the gun found near campus, the Sheriff says the owner of the weapon has been located and said to be stolen, although it hadn’t been reported as so at the time of the incident. Whether or not the gun is connected to the local juvenile cannot be determined yet — but any possible connection is still under investigation.
The FBI’s help led authorities to the address of the juvenile. According to WCSO, the juvenile is being charged with a third degree felony charge for making a terroristic threat.
Liberty Hill threat
During the same briefing, Chody offered the latest information on the Liberty Hill threat. He confirmed that the weapon in the video was an AR-15. He said that while the video was recorded two weeks ago, deputies only became aware of it Wednesday night.
Detectives immediately made contact with the student and parents at their home, and the juvenile was arrested and charged with a third degree felony charge of making a terroristic threat.
Chody also gave two messages for young people and parents during the briefing, saying:
“When a threat of violence is made via social media toward a school in Williamson County, we take that very serious. And I as Sheriff will do everything in my authority to track the violators down and place them in jail just as we have done in not just one case this week, but two. We live in a day when we do not have the luxury to second-guess your true intentions and we owe it to the community to respond accordingly.”
“There are many dangers associated with social media. Please take the time to talk to your children about the responsibilities of social media and the inherent dangers — and consequences — associated with social media.”