Upstate mom says death threats sent to middle schooler; law enfo - FOX Carolina 21

Upstate mom says death threats sent to middle schooler; law enforcement investigating

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BLACKSBURG, SC (FOX Carolina) -

A Cherokee County mother said she is scared for her teen daughter's safety after she received death threats on Facebook. The mother said the teen was being harassed and threatened online because of her sexuality. 

The teen, who is gay, has been open about her sexuality at Blacksburg Middle School, her mother said. Monday the mother, Joey Johnson, reported to school officials that her daughter had been harassed by what looked to be another student. Cherokee County deputies said the threats were made from a Facebook account under a pseudonym. They said they are looking to find out who made the threats.

The private message to the girl contained foul language and a homophobic slur. The threat made said "...keep snitching and see what (expletive) happens loser...KILL YOURSELF BEFORE I DO IT FOR YOU..."

Another message said the author wanted to stab the girl in the school bathroom and drown her in the toilet.

Since the threats were made online and not on school property or school-issued laptops, the school district has turned the case over to law enforcement, though Cherokee County Schools officials told FOX Carolina they have launched an internal school investigation. They said school officials had a converstaion with the student who was threatened and the student she believes made the threat. 

"She's scared," Joey Johnson told FOX Carolina. "I'm a mom - that is my daughter. Nobody's gonna hurt my daughter," said Johnson. 

Johnson said she has reported the incident to Cherokee County deputies, and the sheriff confirmed they are now handling the case since the threats were made off school property and on a personal internet device. 

"We do know the name that was utilized is not a real person's name. It is a fake account that has been set up," said Sheriff Steven Mueller. "We can dig into that and find out who created that account," the sheriff said, adding the investigation will likely entail finding the IP address of the computer or tablet used to post the messages. 

Joey Johnson said her daughter came out to her last year, and at the time she advised her daughter not to tell people at school. 

"Not everyone is accepting, not everyone is understanding," said Johnson. Still, Johnson said her daughter is proud of who she is. "She is not ashamed of that."

Investigators said parents who feel their child is being threatened or harassed by classmates online should contact school officials, and if necessary, law enforcement. They also said parents should make screen-grabs of the harassing messages. 

Sheriff Mueller said depending on who is found to be responsible for the messages, the Dept. of Juvenile Justice could get involved. 

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