WALTON COUNTY, Fla. (WMBB) — Walton High School students had extra law enforcement on campus Thursday for their last day of school.
The Walton County Sheriff’s Office and the DeFuniak Springs Police Department responded with a heavier presence on the Walton High School campus after finding a written threat on the girl’s bathroom wall.
Local authorities said the timing couldn’t have been worse, after Tuesday’s deadly school shooting in Texas.
“The statement said ‘don’t go to school Thursday there will be a bang,’ Walton County Sheriff Mike Adkinson said.
School officials discovered the message the same day a gunman killed 21 people at a Texas elementary school.
Adkinson said tragic situations, like that, often lead to what they call “copycat” threats.
“Always after a school shooting, 100 percent after every school incident of violence that becomes public, we get almost a “copycat” as far as in response or somebody trying to draw attention to themselves,” Adkinson said.
Adkinson said they routinely have to deal with these types of threats. Over the last five years, they’ve received around 60 threats of violence.
“Our responsibility to the parents and the students is to treat all of them very seriously and make sure we do everything we can not only protect these children but also part of that, is a state of mind, given that it was discovered the same day,” Adkinson said.
The sheriff’s office has over 30 school resource deputies on Walton County campuses every day, then there’s the guardian program.
“I have extra guardians what we put in schools some four or five years ago. People don’t know exactly where extra guns are in our school, for responsible people to make sure that we have any threat to our children at any moment,” Walton County School District Superintendent A. Russell Hughes said. “We are going to take it very seriously absolutely and that’s the way we do things in Walton County and we will continue to do so.”
DeFuniak Springs Police Chief James Hurley said they want parents to feel okay when they drop their kids off.
“It was important to show that we do have a presence in this community,” Hurley said. “We just want to make sure that our parents and our children knew they were safe when they are at school.”
Superintendent Hughes called the texas shooting ‘heartbreaking” and said they’ll continue to take preventative measures to keep students safe.