Alabama Teen Sends Threatening Message to Black Classmate

A15-year-old Alabama teen is facing a misdemeanor charge after he allegedly sent a classmate an “alarming message” through iPhone AirDrop on August 13.

The Riverchase Career Connection Center (RC3) student allegedly sent a fellow student a message that read “tomorrow all chocolate kids will die.” The message’s recipient notified school officials, who then contacted Hoover City Police.

Hoover City Schools Superintendent Kathy Murphy told AL.com the school reviewed security camera footage from when the AirDrop message occurred. School officials knew the person responsible was in close proximity to the student who received the threatening message because AirDrop only works within a 30-foot perimeter.

After studying the footage, school officials, school resource officers, and police interviewed students identified as suspects based on the footage. A sophomore interviewee eventually confessed to sending the threatening message.

Murphy, who did not immediately respond to The North Star’s request for comment, said both students involved are African American. “It’s difficult to call the incident racially-motivated when the students are the same race,” she told AL.com.

Hoover Police Chief Nick Derzis told the publication that the department takes all threats seriously “particularly if they appear to be racially-motivated. That’s something that cannot and will not be tolerated.” Derzis did not respond to The North Star’s request for comment.

“Although the threat never appeared to be credible, it caused a significant disruption in school activities, with some parents electing not to send their children to school,” Hoover Police Department said in a statement on August 15. “Additional security measures were put in place as a precaution.”

Approximately 30 students elected not to attend school that day as a precaution.

Police obtained a petition from a Shelby County Juvenile Court magistrate against the 15-year-old teen for harassing communications. Authorities said that no additional information will be released because the case involved a minor.

“This situation did not rise to the level of a terroristic threat type event, but it still caused many students and parents to be concerned and alarmed,” Hoover Captain Gregg Rector told AL.com.

“We feel that this student has certainly been charged with the appropriate offense and he will be handled as he should in the juvenile court system.”

The teen will be taken before a Shelby County Juvenile Court judge after the petition is served, police said. The student will be disciplined by the school according to the Student Code of Conduct, Hoover City Schools’ spokesman Jason Gaston told AL.com.

Superintendent Murphy said that the incident served as a teachable moment for all involved. “That we understand that even though we may be tech-savvy, that there are ways of recovering things that are being snapchatted and airdropped.”

Murphy added: “We are very passionate about the safety of our children, so we are going to invest the time and energy and resources into making sure they are safe.”

There have been a number of recent incidents in which Black students have received threatening messages.

In July, an Arizona man was sentenced to more than a year in prison after he threatened to shoot attendees of Harvard University’s first-ever Black commencement ceremony. Nicholas Zuckerman, 25, also threatened to bomb the prestigious school.

“If the Blacks only ceremony happens, then I encourage violence and death at it. I’m thinking two automatics with extendo clips. Just so no [racial expletives] get away,” Zuckerman wrote on May 23, 2017, according to the US Department of Justice.

The Phoenix resident made the threats on Harvard’s Instagram page in May 2017. He also used #bombharvard on Instagram and wrote “end their pro-Black agenda” under another post by the university. Zuckerman used the hashtag at least 11 times in just four minutes before he was reported to Harvard University Police, prosecutors said.

Zuckerman was indicted in 2018 and pleaded guilty in February to two counts of transmitting an interstate and foreign commerce threat to injure the person of another. He was sentenced in July to 15 months in prison by a federal judge in Boston.

In May, police in Springfield, Missouri launched an investigation after a racist video by a Kickapoo High School student used racial slurs and threatened to lynch Black students. The 20-second Snapchat video posted on May 9 shows an unidentified white male student using racial slurs and other profanity against Black classmates.

Springfield Public Schools spokesman Stephen Hall told The North Star at the time that it applied the maximum level of discipline allowed under the district’s handbook. The district is not allowed to specify which disciplinary actions were taken under Missouri law.


About the Author

Nicole Rojas is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has published in various venues, including Newsweek, GlobalPost, IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, and the Long Island Post. Nicole graduated from Boston University in 2012 with a degree in print journalism. She is an avid world traveler who recently explored Asia and Australia.