A Vance County man was charged with making a false report of violence on an educational property on Monday, after students at Winston-Salem State University told campus police about threats they saw against the school on social media.
The Henderson Police Department arrested Thomas Bell, 19, on Monday afternoon. The charge is a felony, and Bell was placed in jail in Vance County with a bond amount set at $25,000.
The university says Bell is not and has never been a student at Winston-Salem State.
Vance County authorities said Bell posted bond on Tuesday and was released. He is scheduled to appear in court in Forsyth County on Oct. 17. As a condition of his release, he was ordered not to be on the campus of WSSU.
Students at WSSU shared a social media message on Monday that said the school “might have an active killer on campus later.”
Campus police responded by issuing a RamAlert notification to the WSSU community shortly before 2 p.m., letting people know that police were aware of the threat and letting recipients know that they had determined that the sender of the message was not on campus.
About an hour later, police issued an “all clear” notice, and informed recipients said that the sender of the message was not a student and not in the vicinity of the campus.
Jay Davis, the director of media relations for the university, said multiple students reported the social media threat to police through phone calls and postings through LiveSafe, a mobile app that allows students, faculty and staff to confidentially share tips and safety concerns with police.
Patricia Norris, chief of police for WSSU, commended WSSU police for tracking down the suspect so quickly.
“The safety of our students, faculty and staff is always our No. 1 priority,” Norris said in a news release. “Thank you to everyone who reached out to us with these crucial tips that helped us identify the suspect.”