A Brunswick High student was arrested Monday afternoon, shortly after the 16-year-old boy allegedly disrupted the school day by threatening via a media app to go on a shooting spree, Glynn County Schools Police Chief Rod Ellis said.
The threat went out from a cellphone on the school campus shortly before noon, sent on the media app “AirDrop,” police said. Additional schools police officers were immediately posted on the campus, as were officers from neighboring law enforcement agencies. Brunswick High principal Scott Spence had quickly sent out an automated phone message to parents explaining the situation.
The boy threatened to shoot students at the school during “fourth block,” which begins at 2 p.m. Through interviews with students and social media tracking, officials arrested the boy on campus at about 2:30 p.m., Ellis said.
By then, the school day at Brunswick High had completely imploded. Parents arrived in droves to withdraw their children from school for the day, creating an early afternoon traffic jam on Altama Avenue outside the campus.
In addition to Brunswick and Glynn County police, county sheriff’s office deputies, state troopers, and federal agents from the FBI and the bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives descended on the campus. Officials determined there was never any intention to follow through on the threats, Ellis said.
The boy is being charged with terroristic threats and disruption of a public school, police said. His name is not being released because he is a minor.
“It was an empty threat, designed to disrupt school,” Ellis said. “It worked. It devastated the school day. Hopefully, the courts will take all that into consideration.”
Principal Spence was no less amused by the threat. While informing parents of the situation through the automated phone message, he assured parents everything was being done to nab the person responsible.
“Please know that we will do everything within our power to catch the culprit and the consequences for this act will be severe and swift,” Spence told parents.
As Brunswick Police directed traffic in front of the school at 3885 Altama Ave. at around 2 p.m., a BHS senior walked across the road to the College of Coastal Georgia campus on the other side. The young man has a dual enrollment at the high school and the college. Returning to the college campus for his afternoon classes there, he said most BHS students did not take the threat seriously.
“There are a few who are scared, making a big deal over it and overreacting,” the senior said. “The rest are just taking it as somebody being stupid.”
AirDrop is a social media app that can only be sent and received from an Apple phone, said another BHS student, a junior. Typically, the sender is identified, he said. But the student who sent the threat manipulated the message to conceal his identity, the student said. Numerous students with Apple phones received the threat, after which word circulated quickly throughout the school, he said.
The student said at one point he saw at least 100 parents near the front office, attempting to take their children out of school for the day.
The young man said he went home with an aunt.
“It will usually tell you who sent something on AirDrop,” the student said. “But the person who made the threat changed the name on his phone. And once all those people got it, word just spread around real quick.”
Police are still investigating. Anyone with information is asked to call Glynn County Police at 912-554-7802 or the Silent Witness Hotline at 912-264-1333.