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Football game cancelled after threats surface (UPDATED)

SoVaNow.com / October 13, 2017
Death threats posted to social media prompted Brunswick and Park View high schools to cancel Friday night’s football game between the two schools.

According to Mecklenburg County Sheriff Bobby Hawkins a message sent via Snapchat contained a threat to kill five students from either Brunswick or Park View high school. The five students were identified by first name only, and so it is unclear if they were students at Brunswick, Park View or some from each school.

The message was found late Thursday by a Town of South Hill police officer on a cellphone left in or around the Walmart Shopping Center in South Hill.

“In this day and age we take these threats seriously and so the decision was made to postpone the game. Hopefully the schools will be able to play a make-up game, but the when or how is still being discussed. One suggestion is that we hold the game in the afternoon, with only players and coaches from the two teams present. Parents, visitors, cheerleaders and the bands would not be allowed. It’s done in Richmond, but this poses problems. No decision has been made," Hawkins said.

Police would not say who owned the phone containing the message, or if the phone belonged to the author, and they would not identify the students named in the chat.

Friday afternoon, School Superintendent Paul Nichols issued the following statement:

“The football game between Park View High School and Brunswick Senior High School scheduled for tonight [Friday] has been cancelled due to concerns of potential violence posted on social media.

The safety of students at all school related activities is the highest priority of Mecklenburg County Public Schools. Threats perpetrated on social media cannot be ignored at this time in our nation when there are so many instances of violence. We appreciate the diligence and ongoing support of our local law enforcement agencies as they work with us to investigate and dissipate threats, and bring the perpetrators to justice.”

Authorities in Brunswick County say they learned of the threat from parents who saw it on Snapchat.

This prompted Brunswick County Sheriff Brian Roberts to contact school administration in that county with the suggestion that the school withdraw from Friday night’s contest.

This is not the first instance of violence involving students at Brunswick and Park View. Last year, the varsity boys basketball season at Park View High School was cancelled after a Saturday night melee at Brunswick High School in which Dragon players ventured into the stands to confront students from Brunswick County watching a ballgame between the Brunswick and Petersburg varsity teams.

The Dragon Basketball team was in Lawrenceville last December to compete in the annual Brunswick Classic tournament hosted by Brunswick High School. Just before the fight, they’d completed their game in which they defeated a rival from Armstrong.

A video taken of the fight shows several members of the Dragons basketball team leaving their seats on one side of the court, and walking single file over to an area across the court, occupied by young people who — prior to the outbreak of violence — were watching the game between Brunswick and Petersburg, another school that competed in the aborted weekend tournament in Lawrenceville.

Within minutes of the Dragon students arriving in the stands, a fight breaks out, which cleared the stands and brought about the abrupt end of the ongoing game and the tournament.

The players who admitted their involvement in the fight — including some starters for the Dragon squad — offered no explanation for their actions other than to say tensions between Brunswick and Park View students had been mounting since football season earlier in the school year.

Authorities would not say if the two matters are linked. But, Hawkins acknowledged that investigators from his office are working with teams from South Hill and the Brunswick County Sheriff’s office on this matter. So far, no arrests have been made.

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