FAUQUIER COUNTY, VA (WUSA9) - The parents sat in darkness, worried the echoes of Las Vegas, Sandy Hook and Columbine would be heard in the halls of Liberty High School.
In a dim auditorium, the spotlight was on law enforcement and school administrators - a town hall meeting Monday to hear families’ concerns.
Six Liberty High School students discussed online how to kill a classmate days earlier, but authorities said the threats did not rise to the level of criminal offenses.
A parent postponed a final evening with her son before he went to boot camp, telling the crowd that the high school gathering was more important - her voice needed to be heard.
"These threats are real, and what more will it take for you all to do something," she asked the school district and sheriff’s officials. "I don’t want my children going back to school with the ones who made these threats."
Parents held printed screen images of the disturbing instant messages - where students discussed the murder of a fellow teen. The participants asked whether they would remove their masks before the student died, and whether they would urinate on his body.
The messages were spread on Facebook last week, after one of the students involved in the chat shared them.
Sheriffs officials confirmed the authenticity of the messages read aloud at the town hall meeting, but said they amounted to nothing more than "teenage bravado," and no conspiracy existed to carry out the threats.
"What everyone here needs to understand is that we have to follow the law, and we as parents also have kids here in this community," said Sgt. James Hartman in an interview Monday. "In many instances, our laws just haven’t kept up with the technology, and when you read through all these messages, there was no coordinated plan."
School officials could not disclose the disciplinary actions leveled against the students who sent the messages, citing district privacy regulations.
When members of the audience asked if the teenagers could be expelled, pointing out the high school’s anti-bullying code of conduct, there was no definitive answer on the subject.
Parents threw up their hands, and walked out.
"I don’t want my kids in the same school as these people, period," could be heard at that moment of the meeting.
Looking forward to Friday, students asked if extra security could be added for homecoming. The response, "we can add an extra deputy no problem, if deemed necessary," echoed across the aisles.
"We want to be here to reassure the public 100 percent," Hartman said. "We need to have evidence and it doesn’t meet the threshold here."
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