Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

January 2, 2013

Website posting and Batman movie raise school safety concerns in Giles County


Associated Press

PEARISBURG, Va. — Giles County students are staying home from school today while members of the county’s law enforcement agencies speak to teachers and staff about Internet school shooting discussions linked to a map that appeared in the last Batman movie.

On Dec. 27, 2012, the Virginia State Police notified Giles County Sheriff’s Office, the Town of Narrows Police Department, and Giles County Schools about information on a website, Dr. Terry E. Arbogast II, superintendent of Giles County schools said in a statement issued Tuesday.

The website discussed the recent tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., Arbogast said. This discussion included how the words “Sandy Hook” appeared on a map in a scene of the movie “The Dark Knight Rises.” Another zone of this map contained the name “Narrows.”

“The author, who posted this article, did an online Google search ‘based on a hunch’ for ‘Narrows schools,” Arbogast said. “From this search, information for Narrows Elementary/Middle School and Narrows High School appeared.”

Giles County Sheriff W. M. . Millirons and Chief Bentley Ratcliffe of the Narrows Police Department hosted a press conference Tuesday afternoon at the Giles County Courthouse to address the website reference to Narrows.

On the website “Revelation Now,” an article titled “The Next School Massacre Target?” spoke about the words “Sandy Hook” appearing on a Gotham City map seen one hour and 58 minutes into the movie. The website’s other topics include ancient civilizations, angels, giants, prophecies, UFOs and conspiracy theories.

Both Millirons and Ratcliffe said that no direct threat had been made to the schools. Sheriff’s deputies, Narrows police officers, and officers of other local agencies routinely patrol the schools, they said.

“We’re just trying to ensure the safety of our schools, our students and faculty,” Millirons said. “We have always been visible in the last five years in the school system along with our SRO, school resource officers. Each school has a deputy sheriff assigned to the school, and there has always been additional patrols around the schools by deputies and town officers.”

An 18-year-old Virginia resident who saw the Internet reference to Narrows and Giles County Schools contacted the Salem detachment of the Virginia State Police, which then notified the detachment in Wytheville, Va., Millirons said.

“We’re going to continue all this, and all of our agencies and local officers have been informed about what’s going on.” he said. “We just wanted to make sure that our school system was aware of what we are doing and the information that was gathered on the Internet. We just want parents to know what was brought to our attention. We just want to keep everybody as safe as we can.”

Ratcliffe said safety measure now in place would continue. Deputies and officers will be speaking to teachers at county schools today about the Internet reference.

“Do we think our students are going to be safe in Giles County schools? Yes, we do,” he said.

Arbogast urged parents with any questions to contact their children’s school or the Giles County School Board office.

Depending on weather conditions or any new developments, Giles County students are scheduled to return to their schools Thursday, Millirons said.