PETERSBURG, Va. (WRIC) — Two Petersburg schools were forced to heighten security on Sept. 25 after a social media user made threats of violence online Sunday night.
The threats were made against Petersburg High School and Vernon Johns Middle School, which sit next door to each other on Rollingwood Road in Petersburg. Marsha Lewis, who lives nearby, said she was fearful all day as police investigated.
“They could actually run through the woods,” Lewis said. “That’s how close we are.”
Lewis’ kids used to attend the schools. She said it’s shocking how much things have changed in recent years.
“When they were in high school, [fist-fighting] was the normal, you know, physical… hands-on [fights],” Lewis explained. “You can’t fight a gun. You can’t fight a bullet because a stray bullet doesn’t have anybody’s name on it.”
Sunday night’s threat, which is now under investigation by the Petersburg Bureau of Police, appeared on social media late Sunday night.
Police said they cannot share details at this time, but community members told 8News that the threat was made via an Instagram story which consisted of the user threatening to bring a gun first to the high school, followed by the middle school next door.
The post suggested this threat was in response to “bullying and harassment,” but 8News is still waiting for confirmation from police.
“It has become real frequent now,” Lewis remarked. “It’s like any time a student gets upset about anything, they resort to violence.”
Students at both schools were under “controlled movement” until around noon. 8News asked for clarification on what exactly this status means. The schools were not under states of full lockdown, but there were more officers on site than normal. Some parents said this was enough to prompt them to keep their kids home, at least for Monday.
With a sigh, Lewis reflected on the escalating violence she’s seen — not just at surrounding schools — but across the community.
“I don’t know,” Lewis began. “It’s just… it’s sad, but it’s this generation.”
Petersburg Police confirmed it will continue to investigate this threat and will be on site at both schools throughout the week. 8News is still working to confirm how the person who made the threats was connected to the school. Anyone with information should contact Petersburg Police at 804-732-4222.