TOMS RIVER, NJ – An ominous warning spread virally across TikTok this week claiming Friday, December 17th was “National Shoot up your School Day” and parents are worried.
The messages did not mention any specific schools or regions, so police across the country are on edge just as a precaution.
“Law enforcement agencies throughout the United States have become aware of threats on social media platforms discussing the possibility of violent acts occurring in schools tomorrow. There are no credible threats against any schools in Ocean County. We will remain vigilant and there will be an increased police presence tomorrow. We encourage anyone with information about a possible threat to school safety to contact their local police department and/or school resource officer so any concerns can immediately be investigated,” the message read.
In Ocean County, Prosecutor Bradley Billhimer said the threat was not credible.
“Law enforcement agencies throughout the United States have become aware of threats on social media platforms discussing the possibility of violent acts occurring in schools tomorrow,” Billhimer assured parents and faculty. “There are no credible threats against any schools in Ocean County. We will remain vigilant and there will be an increased police presence tomorrow. We encourage anyone with information about a possible threat to school safety to contact their local police department and/or school resource officer so any concerns can immediately be investigated.”
In Jackson Township, the district said extra police patrols will be made available just in case.
“We are aware of some social media activity that threatens violence against schools nationwide on December 17th. The threats are generic and not specific to any school or town, but rather to schools in general. We have conferred with the Jackson Police Department, who are aware of the threats and monitoring the situation for any connection to our community or New Jersey overall. Out of an abundance of caution and to reinforce the feelings of safety among our students and staff, JPD will increase patrols in and around our schools on Dec. 17,” the Jackson School District said in a statement. “We encourage you to speak with your child and let them know they should always report any threats to police and school officials. The Jackson School District takes every threat seriously – the safety and security of our staff and our students is always our top priority.”
Brick Township police will also increase patrols during the school day in response to the threat.
“The Brick Police department is aware of a generic nationwide message circulating on social media regarding a threat on schools for December 17th. There is no known credible threat to any Brick Township schools. We have been in contact with school officials and will continue to monitor the situation. As a precaution patrols of schools will be increased. Parents are reminded to speak to their children about always reporting any suspicious activity to school staff, the police or you,” the department said in a statement.
The New Jersey Department of Education alerted school districts of the threat through the Office of Preparedness and Emergency Planning.
“The District was informed by the NJDOE Office of School Preparedness and Emergency Planning that there have been social media posts circulating that refer to potential acts of violence at schools nationwide on December 17. The posts do not contain any information specific to a school district. According to the NJDOE Office of School Preparedness and Emergency Planning, these posts are circulating in many states,” the Middletown School District told parents. “Although these posts are general and contain no specific threats to our schools, we have consulted with the Middletown Township Police Department (MTPD). The MTPD has investigated the matter and informed the District that the social media posts are not credible and pose no threat to the safety of our students or staff.”
Many other districts along the shore have issued similar warnings with responses that include more police security at the schools on Friday in response to the threat.
“While there are no known specific threats against New Jersey schools, the safety of our children is our highest priority and we will work closely with law enforcement to monitor the situation and remain prepared,” said Governor Phil Murphy on Thursday.
The threat has police departments and school districts in New Jersey and nationwide on edge after a recent school shooting in Illinois.