Facebook crimes include terrorist threats to two area schools

COLUMBUS, GA (WXTX) - It is a website most people use every single day, but some use it not only for good but to commit crimes.  School shootings have actually been threatened at two area schools, but police were able to prevent that crime thanks to Facebook.

Recently there were threats made at both Central Freshman Academy and South Girard School in Phenix City. Many teachers, students, and parents never even heard about it because it took place online.

Lt. Jason Whitten with the Phenix City Police Department said, "The ones we've had recently is where someone has threatened to come to the school and threatened to do bodily harm to someone or several people. Saying things like 'I'm going to come to school and shoot a bunch of people' or 'I'm going to come to school and kill a bunch of people.' That right there causes disruption in the school and that is part of the terrorist threats law and that itself is a crime."

It's a fairly new crime, but Lt. Whitten says it carries very serious consequences, "Terrorist threats on Facebook towards schools and students in the school. We've had two this year where juveniles have been arrested for making terrorist threats."

The crime is a class C felony, meaning the suspect could spend up to five years in prison.

"The biggest thing is people in the heat of moment typing something out and hitting send. That stays there forever, and the damage is done," Whitten explained to News Leader 9.

Police are now conducting complete investigations into these online crimes that take place in their area.

Whitten added, "The most difficult part is jurisdiction, where did the actual crime happen? The internet is everywhere and to commit a crime here in Russell County or Phenix City, Alabama, we need to establish that's where it took place."

Phenix City police have also solved some crimes due to what people post on Facebook. For instance some burglars have posted pictures of the items they have stolen, and some parents have uploaded photos of their children, that have helped police prove child abuse.

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