NEW PORT RICHEY (FOX 13) - Almost 400 students were absent from R.B. Stewart Middle School in Zephyrhills Thursday after threats were made on social media, according to the Pasco County Sheriff's Office.
It's one of three schools that have been the subject of online threats in the past week, Sheriff Chris Nocco said at a press conference Thursday afternoon.
The first happened at John Long Middle School in Wesley Chapel. Two students were arrested, accused of trying to recruit other students to shoot up the school. And Thursday morning in New Port Richey, a student at Ridgewood High School was arrested for allegedly posting a shooting threat online. Now, investigators are interviewing two students from R.B. Stewart Middle School after rumors were found circulating online about possible plans of school violence.
Meanwhile, students are in standardized testing mode at Stewart middle. It was unclear what would happen with students who missed any tests.
Sheriff Nocco said any student found to have made threats will be charged with a felony. The school board said it will change existing policies in order to be able to expel any student who makes threats.
Nocco said PSO worked through the night, Wednesday into Thursday, to identify the source of the latest rumors. He said, out of an abundance of caution, there would be an increased law enforcement presence at R.B. Stewart Middle and enhanced security procedures would be in place.