PINE BLUFF, Ark. — The Watson Chapel School District has been on edge for the past couple of weeks after multiple fake threats were called in. Various school officials, including Superintendent Tom Wilson, have said that it has been a very frustrating situation.
"First through 12th grade here, raised, born and raised here in the Pine Bluff area," Wilson said. "Our main priority, top priority, has been safety and to make sure everything's secure."
As Superintendent, he has been constantly committed to raising up the district, even when some have tried to bring them down.
"It gets more frustrating as they occur," Wilson said.
For the past two weeks, threats have been falsely made, and they have sent local law enforcement scrambling to district schools.
Two weeks ago there were threats of an active shooter, and just this past Friday, a bomb threat sent the district into lockdown.
"This is no laughing matter," Wilson said. "You know, we want to make sure we take steps to ensure that they're dealt with accordingly."
That punishment can be severe because threats like those are not only a danger to students but can also cause more issues in other parts of the city.
"They're taking the police away from handling other duties, and there could be other things going on, you know, that the police can't get there to help somebody," Wilson said. "And so this, this is definitely a federal crime."
In some cases, the FBI has even had to investigate and they stated in part, "The FBI is aware of the numerous swatting incidents wherein a report of an active shooter at a school is made. The FBI takes swatting very seriously because it puts innocent people at risk."
"But I want them to understand, hey, they will be caught, and we will deal with them harshly as we can," Wilson said. "Because they deserve the harshest penalty they can get."
The threats have felt more and more common recently, and though they have been fake, Wilson explained that he has a message for the school district.
"Don't let anyone make you scared, make you fear anything because that's the worst thing that can happen," he said. "We need to enjoy school and let's move forward, and we're taking the steps where it's gonna be safe for them. I promise."
The Pine Bluff Police Department is offering a $5,000 reward for any information that leads to the arrest of whoever keeps making false threats.