Shared social media post causes concern at ECMS
By DON FLETCHER
News Staff Writer
Atmore police and Escambia County sheriff’s deputies made a show of force last week after a social media post by a girl from more than 800 miles away was shared by an Escambia County Middle School student and caused a significant level of concern among school officials, law enforcement and parents last Friday, September 24.
But — as is the case in most similar incidents — the school was never actually threatened, nor was any student, teacher or administrator of the school ever in any danger.
“There is no threat,” Police Chief Chuck Brooks as he and other police officers, Sheriff Heath Jackson and his deputies, and newly hired Superintendent of Education Michele McClung cleared the scene. “They [ECSO] are working it right now. Apparently, this social media post came from a girl in Chicago. Apparently, this girl came down here during the summer and befriended a kid here. That kid got it and shared it down here.”
Several parents came to the school, just to make sure their children weren’t in any danger.
“I’m just wondering what’s going on,” said Leon Crenshaw, who has a child at ECMS. “I saw it on Facebook and wanted to find out just what it is that’s going on.”
Crenshaw spoke briefly with ECMS Principal Takecia Barlow as a phalanx of lawmen stood by, then left, apparently satisfied that his child was safe.
Brooks said the Chicago youngster has already been taken into custody by authorities in her hometown. A juvenile petition was reportedly filed against the local student by sheriff’s officers.
The police chief added that, although there is usually very little to such incidents, they can’t be overlooked.
“It’s just a mess,” he said. “But you can’t ignore it when something like this happens.”
As most of the lawmen were leaving the school around 8:15, Barlow echoed over the school’s public address system that no threat existed at the school.
“We do have everything totally under control, and we wanted to give you some confidence to know that all is well, and we can have school as usual, the ECMS principal said. “There is no threat.”
She thanked students, parents and staff for the way the situation was handled and promised that law officers would keep a watch on the situation throughout the day.
“For your comfort, we will have the police and sheriff’s office monitoring things during the day,” Barlow said. “Thank you again for how you handled the situation. We look forward to a continual, mind-engaging day.”