Local law enforcement, FBI warn of consequences of school shooting threats

FBI conference

SMITH COUNTY, TX (KLTV) - Several law enforcement agencies including the FBI met to discuss school threats and school safety on Wednesday.

"Since the Parkland School shooting, we have received almost 700 threats," FBI-Dallas Special Agent-in-Charge Eric Jackson says.

So far, eight months into 2018, CNN is reporting that there have already been 23 school shootings where someone has gotten hurt or killed. And all of these numbers are rising.

"We live in an age where a person has the ability to say anything to anyone at any time and have it broadcasted to the entire world within a split second," Smith County Assistant District Attorney Taylor Heaton says.

Advanced technology and social media have become a gateway to violence.

"Don't let these people hurt us and take our lives," Smith County Sheriff's Office Sargent Darrell Coslin says.

Coslin never imagined he would have to teach school-aged children how to defend themselves against a gunman while they sit helplessly at their desks, but he does. 

"Whether it's picking up a fire extinguisher or a book or a computer, whether it's just physically going hands-on with this person or just overwhelming them with sheer weight," Coslin says.

This past school year, a number of east Texas districts received numerous threats and the Tyler district is being proactive rather than reactive.

"We're going through the process right now to find the best quality individuals, people who can connect with our kids but at the same time understand the importance of safety on our campuses," Tyler school district Assistant Superintendent Rawly Sanchez says.

Local law enforcement officials say while a large percentage of social media threats are a hoax, they treat each one just as seriously as an actual shooting event. 

"That investigation is just as detailed as any assault investigation, and aggravated assault investigation. It requires witness testimony, it requires statements, sometimes it requires forensic analysis," Tyler Police Chief Jimmy Toler says.

And there are legal consequences that come with a threat.

"There is no bond in the juvenile justice system, and if the juvenile is detained they will stay in detention, until further order of the court," Heaton says.

The Tyler school district is still in the process of hiring their four new police officers for the 2018-2019 school year.

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