Arrest Made After Racist Threat Shut Down Charlottesville Schools

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA — A teen was arrested in connection with a racist threat made towards Charlottesville High School that led authorities to close city schools for two days as a precaution, police said.

On Wednesday afternoon, Charlottesville police was alerted to an online threat “containing biased-based language targeting specific ethnic groups” at the high school, police said.

Charlottesville police worked with local, state and federal partners to track down the source of the threat and made an arrest on Friday. A 17-year-old boy was arrested and charged with threats to commit serious bodily harm to persons on school property and harassment by computer, according to police.

In a letter to families, Superintendent Dr. Rosa Atkins said the teen arrested by police does not attend a school in the city and does not live in Charlottesville. Atkins said that Charlottesville schools will not tolerate hate or threats.

In her letter, Atkins referenced the events of August 2017, when a violent white supremacist rally in the city left a woman protesting hate, 32-year-old Heather Heyer, dead. The man who drove his car into the crowd of counterprotesters, killing Heyer and injuring others, was sentenced to life in prison.

“I find it particularly troubling that a person who is not part of our Charlottesville City Schools community would make such a hurtful and divisive threat under the guise of being a CHS student,” Atkins said in the letter. “Since August 2017, we have made concerted efforts to have difficult conversations around race and to build trust and relationships. This comment attempted to undermine our community.”

Atkins invited the community to show solidarity with the high school by wearing orange or black on Monday.

Police said that while the closure of the schools may have caused an inconvenience, safety is the top priority.

“The safety of our students and staff was the top priority for the department, the city and the school district,” Charlottesville Police Chief RaShall Brackney said in a statement.

Police said any potential threats made against the city’s schools are taken seriously and vigorously investigated regardless of whether they are credible or not.

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