WEST JEFFERSON — An investigation involving a shooting threat at Ashe County High School Thursday, Aug. 29, is ongoing after officials have determined the threat was not credible, according to Ashe County Sheriff B. Phil Howell.
“Just because we found it not to be credible at this time, doesn’t mean it’s not credible for tomorrow or the next day,” Howell said, adding that the investigation is not closed. “The goal is to get somebody charged.”
The threat originated from a text message circulated by students and shared with Ashe County Schools administrators early Thursday morning, according to Ashe County Schools Superintendent Phyllis Yates.
Ashe County Public Schools shared a post on Facebook around 9 a.m. stating, “It is probable that this is not a credible threat, and that a student has created this text message to disrupt the school day.”
ACHS remained under a “soft lockdown” throughout the day, meaning movement within and outside of the building was limited, but instruction continued without interruption while law enforcement patrolled the campus, Yates said.
Howell said that he was proud of how ACSO handled the situation. Chief Deputy Danny Houck, ACSO detectives and N.C. State Highway Patrol assisted in security measures at ACHS, while other deputies visited the homes of potential suspects in the investigation, Howell said.
“If there is a credible threat — even if we don’t think it’s credible, we want to treat it like it is,” Howell said.
As the investigation is still ongoing, Howell said more information will be released at a later date, though he did confirm that ACSO has narrowed down a list of suspects.
Yates released a statement to parents later on Thursday commending ACS and ACSO staff for their efforts throughout the day, adding that ACHS will return to its regular schedule on Friday, Aug. 30.
“Ashe County Schools is blessed to have such competent and dedicated employees — our students are in good hands,” Yates said in the statement.
Ian Taylor contributed reporting to this story.