Swain County schools go into lockdown after social media threat

Photo credit: WLOS Staff

All schools in Swain County went on lockdown Thursday morning in response to what school leaders are calling a credible threat on Facebook.

As a precaution, all county schools went on lockdown just after 7 a.m., according to school protocol. School leaders said about 30 students were in the high school at the time of the lockdown.

Law enforcement was notified immediately after the threat was found. Swain County High Schools principal says authorities arrived less than 5 minutes after they were contacted.

Administrators have not released much information about the nature of the threat, but they say there was nothing to the rumors of a shooter at Swain schools.

Authorities say a man was found near the middle school with a gun and drugs during the lockdown, but they don't believe he was going to the school. That man was arrested and taken to jail.

"All of our schools in the district were taken care of and all of our students were safe. All of our staff were safe," Mark Sale, Swain County High School's principal, said. "And at this point, we've determined that we can return to business as usual."

Sheriff Curtis Cochran said 40 of his officers responded to all schools county-wide. Within an hour of the lockdown, all schools were cleared.

Sheriff Cochran said the social media threat is being tracked with the help of the SBI.

Principal Sale says in the aftermath of the mass shooting in Florida last week, schools in Swain County were canceled for the rest of the day so students, parents, and staff could reorganize emotionally.

Sale urges parents to be actively involved with their kids' social media accounts.

Swain County High School students will conduct a walk out at 8 a.m. Friday, followed by a discussion in the Fine Arts Center about safety and to show solidarity with the Florida students.

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