A 15-year-old Alabama student has been charged with harassing communications, a misdemeanor, after he used iPhone AirDrop to message a fellow student "tomorrow all chocolate kids will die." However, the superintendent of the district claims that the message is not "racially-motivated," as both the culprit and the victim are African-American.
The student at the Riverchase Career Connection Center in Hoover, Alabama, sent his peer the "alarming message" on Tuesday. The receiver of the message immediately alerted school officials and Hoover police were called in.
According to Al.com, school superintendent Kathy Murphy said that the security camera footage from the time the AirDrop occurred was pulled and reviewed. They knew that the culprit was near the student who received the message, as a person must be within a 30-foot perimeter in order for AirDrop to work.
School officials, school resource officers and detectives interviewed the students in the footage who were deemed suspicious. Ultimately, a sophomore boy confessed to sending the message.
Despite the offensive wording of the language, Murphy said it's "difficult to call the incident racially-motivated when the students are the same race."
Hoover police Chief Nick Derzis told the outlet that they take all threats seriously, especially if they may appear to be racially-motivated.
“That’s something that cannot and will not be tolerated," Derzis said. “We were aware of certain information very early into this investigation that led us to believe that this threat was not credible and we distributed that information as soon as we could, trying to cause the least disruption, and also not to jeopardize some interviews that we had to conduct.”
Despite the threat being deemed not credible, extra security measures were put into place. Approximately 30 students were also kept home by their parents on Tuesday as a precaution.
The case was transferred to a Shelby County Juvenile Court magistrate, and a warrant for harassing communications was issued against the student.
“This situation did not rise to the level of a terroristic threat type event, but it still caused many students and parents to be concerned and alarmed,’’ Hoover Capt. Gregg Rector told Al.com. “We feel that this student has certainly been charged with the appropriate offense, and he will be handled as he should in the juvenile court system.”
“This is such a teachable moment for all of us,’’ Murphy said. "We are very passionate about the safety of our children, so we are going to invest the time and energy and resources into making sure they are safe.”
Jason Gaston, Hoover City Schools' spokesman, said that the student would be disciplined according to the student code of conduct. As the student is a minor, police will release no further information.
A representative for Hoover County Schools and Hoover Police Department did not immediately respond to Yahoo Lifestyle’s off-hours requests for comment.
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