LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - The FBI is now reporting over 106 school threats statewide since the Florida school shooting four weeks ago.
Here in Calcasieu, there have been 50 school threats in the past four weeks. Now that doesn't mean we have 50 percent of the threats reported by the FBI, they were only highlighting those they considered serious.
Sheriff Tony Mancuso says out of the 106 threats the FBI highlighted, around 10 came from Southwest Louisiana, 7 coming from Calcasieu Parish.
CPSO is not required to report these threats to the FBI, but in these instances, the FBI was involved or considered them serious enough.
Mancuso says around half of those came from hoax threats circulating on social media mentioning targets with the same initials as Barbe, Sulphur, and Sam Houston high schools.
"These particular acronyms fit their description and caused a little panic in our community," said Mancuso. "They are working those, so that's three of them that came from our area, for sure. Some of the ones we made arrests on, I think, they highlight as well."
Nine arrests have been made so far and Mancuso says 20 are still pending investigation.
"We consider everything that we get a serious threat, but out of the 50, with arrests at nine, and we got another 20, so that's 30," said Mancuso. "Twenty, basically, had no credibility and we cannot substantiate in any way."
From August to February, there had only been 25 reports of threats made on schools, now they're up to 50.
"We had a harsh winter and a rough school year so far, teachers and faculty and the school board, they've had a tough year," said Mancuso. "So, we have a summer break coming up and I'm hoping maybe with that, things can calm down. I'm gonna say it again, we have to teach our children that if they're scared, if they feel threatened, if they feel scared, it doesn't matter if it's real or not, because if it's real to them, then it needs to be reported."
Mancuso says in the case of a false report, the consequence may be a misdemeanor, but based on the severity of the situation, terrorizing charges may be considered, which bumps that up to a felony.
Here are the statutes violated if a threat or a false threat is made, according to the FBI:
- Louisiana Revised Statute 14:40.1 - Terrorizing, which carries maximum penalties of 15 years imprisonment, a $15,000 fine, or both.
- In cases where social media was utilized, arrestees could also face federal charges, including Title 18, United States Code 875(c), Threatening Interstate Communications, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.