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Student at school in Chester County charged after social media gun picture, cops say

A student in Chester County is being charged with making threats after a photo of him brandishing a gun was circulated on social media, police said.

Great Falls Middle School in southeastern Chester County was briefly on a lockout Thursday morning as deputies investigated, said Robert Sprouse, chief deputy of the Chester County Sheriff’s Office.

A lockout or a lockdown means the school was closed to outsiders as police investigated, Sprouse said.

The picture was sent as a group message on social media, Sprouse said. No weapons were found, Sprouse said

“We immediately investigated, and charges against the suspect as a juvenile are being filed,” Sprouse said.

The student was not identified.

Chester County Schools spokesperson Rebecca Crouch said school officials received a tip about a possible threat Thursday morning and police were called.

No students were injured and no threat at school was found, Crouch said.

“We sent word to our parents immediately,” Crouch said.

The school sent an email and phone message to parents that stated:

“At Great Falls Complex, our top priority is to provide your child with a quality education in a safe environment. We also believe it is important for us to keep the lines of communication open with families at our school.

“We need to make you aware of an incident that occurred today. On the morning of January 31, 2019, we received a tip that made us aware of a possible threat to our school. Our administrative staff was made aware of this and law enforcement was notified immediately. There was no active threat on school grounds. Law enforcement responded and the threat is being fully investigated by law enforcement and district administration. Thank you for your support as we seek to provide your child with the best education possible.”

The social media threat is not the first in recent months.

In late 2018 an investigation by South Carolina State Law Enforcement Division agents was launched after a student at Lewisville Middle School was charged with making threats at school.

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Andrew Dys covers breaking news and public safety for The Herald, where he has been a reporter and columnist since 2000. He has won 51 South Carolina Press Association awards for his coverage of crime, race, justice, and people. He is author of the book “Slice of Dys” and his work is in the U.S. Library of Congress.