South Effingham High School threat under investigation

EFFINGHAM CO., GA (WTOC) - South Effingham High School was on lockdown after a threat was made Thursday morning.

The sheriff's office responded to a written threat found at the school.

Parents gathered across the street, demanding more information and to check their children out of school. The Effingham County Sheriff's Office met with parents at the scene.

The lockdown was downgraded to Level 2 at about 11:20 a.m., which meant parents could check their children out.

"It was kind of scary for us. A lot of people were crying," said student, Jillian Pelote. "But I feel like we were alright in that situation."

"When we finally got to change classes, it was very scary as well," said student, Maleece Newbill said. "There were officers everywhere and our teacher said he didn't know anything about it, so we knew it wasn't a drill. It was just very scary."

According to officials from the school system, additional law enforcement officers were on campus as a safety precaution. Officials stressed the written threat has not been found credible, but an investigation is underway.

Parents say they're worried about what could have happened. They say the school needs more day-to-day security.

"Install some type of intercom or camera maybe before you let people in," one parent said. "I've come to this school and my son's at the middle school. Anytime, just walk in to pick them up, but I could be anyone in there."

"Anytime you have 20 to 25 officers in a school building, you know they're not there for a get-together," said parent, Vanessa Newbill. "You know it's something serious that you have to take seriously, so better to be safe than sorry."

"We've got a lot of copycats right now," said Gena Bilbo, Effingham County Sheriff's Office. "I don't know what their motivation is, short of attention, but if we find who made this threat, if we find who's making these threats, they will be arrested and they will be charged. How tense the parents get is obviously a concern to us, but the safety is the school and is the most important. The safety of our children is most important. If they have to wait until they can come in so we can investigate properly, then that's what has to happen."

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