WETUMPKA, AL (WSFA) - The search continues for a man, who sent a text message and Facebook message, threatening a student's life and prompting a lockdown at Wetumpka Middle School Friday.
A mother of a 5th grade Wetumpka Middle School student received messages from a Facebook acquaintance that he was going to pick up her child and kill him. She immediately called the school, and it was promptly put on lockdown at about 10 a.m.
"When you threaten to hurt a child – hurt a school – hey, that's off limits", Elmore County Sheriff Bill Franklin explained. "There's got to be a penance you have to pay for that."
Franklin explained the child's parents are not together, but the father of the child learned about the Facebook relationship and contacted him, prompting the threats to the mother.
"This is a three-way love triangle, a Facebook triangle – a dysfunctional triangle if you ask me," Franklin admitted.
When the mother called the school about the threat, she didn't know the father had not taken the child to school Friday. The father came to the Elmore County Sheriff's Office. He was arrested on old warrants, but otherwise doesn't have a role in the situation other than confronting the man from social media.
As investigators pieced together the details, parents were beside themselves. Word of the lockdown spread quickly, mass misinformation was shared on social media. For hours, the details about why law enforcement officers were arming the perimeter of the campus with high powered weapons and swat teams were inside the school were frustratingly thin.
More than 40 parents parked across from the school to be on hand in case anything happened.
Superintendent Dr. Andre Harrison appointed a contact person with the parents to call to pass along updates.
"I was talking to parents on the phone and explaining, law enforcement has taken over," Harrison said. "Even though I am the superintendent – I am working with them and they are in charge of the scene. They kept me informed and I was able to manage the message and keep parents involved."
The lockdown was lifted around 12:55pm, and droves of students were quickly checked out of school. Authorities are still working to identify and arrest the suspect.
Harris took to Facebook again Friday afternoon to defend the lockdown.
The superintendent commended faculty, staff, and students for their patience and cooperation during the lockdown.