Crime & Courts

Richland County students threatened by teen with fake online profiles, police say

A Richland County teenager has been arrested and charged Tuesday for making online threats to other students.

The threats were made with fake profiles, according to the Richland County Sheriff’s Department, adding the messages included threats of intimidation and physical violence.

The threats were made via Google hangouts and discovered on the school-issued Chrome book each student is provided, the sheriff’s department said.

The 14-year-old Richland Northeast High School student was charged with multiple counts of unlawful communication; a misdemeanor offense, according to the sheriff’s department.

The teen, taken into custody at approximately 4 p.m., threatened fellow Richland Northeast students through the use of a fake profile on the internet, the sheriff’s department said.

One profile that alarmed parents of other students was of an older while male named Joe, which the sheriff’s department proved to be a fake account created by the 14 year old.

Richland Northeast Principal Dr. Sabrina J. Suber said she learned of the threats Nov. 19, and interviewed students the following day and met with parents before sharing information with the school resource officer and the sheriff’s department.

Suber said the sheriff’s department sent over additional personnel Tuesday as a precaution.

The investigation is ongoing and more charges might be forthcoming. Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said the teen will be released to a parent or guardian.

Letter to Richland Northeast parents

On Sunday night, I learned that at least one of our students was receiving threatening and inappropriate emails from an individual using email accounts not associated with Richland School District Two. I immediately notified district administrators and our school resource officer. District administrators notified their point of contact with the Richland County Sheriff’s Department.

I spent Monday interviewing 13 students who have received the emails and sharing information with our School Resource Officer. Our SRO is working with an investigator at the Sheriff’s Department who has been assigned to this case. I also met and talked with several parents.

All of the administrators at Richland Northeast and at the District Office are taking this very seriously and are working closely with the Sheriff’s Department to investigate this criminal activity and identify the person sending the emails.

Due to the threats in the emails, the Sheriff’s Department is sending over additional personnel at lunch time today as a precaution.

Currently we are considering the possibility of changing student email accounts so that they cannot receive emails from email accounts outside of the Richland Two system or send emails to addresses that are not on the Richland Two system over Thanksgiving Break. We will only make this change if it will not interfere with the investigation. Parents will be notified when we determine if the change can be made without jeopardizing the investigation.

This morning, I sent the following information to our students.

If you receive one of these emails, click on the picture/avatar/letter in the circle by the username. That will take you to the subject’s profile. Screenshot or take a photo of that profile making sure to capture the entire profile URL. You can also screenshot the chat.

Please send information to me and our School Resource Officer.

Also, remember the Digital Citizenship safety tips that you have learned over the years that include:

• Do not have your school name, address, or phone number on your social media accounts

• Never chat with or accept a friend request from someone that you don’t know in real life

Please do not hesitate to contact me or any member of the Richland Northeast administrative team if you have concerns about your student’s email account. Thank you for your support as we work to provide a safe and secure learning environment for our students.

Sincerely,

Dr. Sabrina J. Suber

Principal

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