Almost 30 threats made in first 13 school days in Hillsborough County

The Hillsborough County School district and law enforcement released some eye-opening statistics Wednesday. The district is averaging about two threats a day so far this school year.

According to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office and Tampa Police Department, there have been at least 27 threats in just 13 school days.

"We want everyone to think before they post and remember: it's not a joke," Superintendent Jeff Eakins said.

Eakins said the numbers are escalating quicker this year, but this is far from a recent trend.

According to Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan, in the last year and a half, officers have responded to 72 school threats, arrested 20 people and taken 17 more into custody under the Baker Act.

"It can be very time-consuming investigations. Sometimes these are taking a minimum 10 to 11 hours, sometimes 12 hours," Dugan said. "It's difficult to determine whether they're for real, so we have to treat every single one of them like it's the real deal."

According to the FBI, this is a problem nationwide following the mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio.

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"This is not just a Hillsborough County issue that we're talking about today, it affects the whole nation, it affects our region," said Michael McPherson, FBI Special Agent in Charge of Tampa's field office. "We'll find out who's posting it. If it's a threat, we're going to mitigate it. If it's a hoax, there will be consequences."

And it can affect students for the rest of their lives. Investigators said that's likely the case for a 12-year-old who was arrested for making threats.

"She posted a threat on Snapchat about shooting and killing other students at a local middle school. That one bad decision will, unfortunately, change her life forever," said Maj. Thomas St. John with the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office.

"If you see something, say something, but also be careful what you say and what you post," Dugan added.

Authorities want parents to remind students that charges can stay on their records -- and that who do make threats are moved to alternative schools.