EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – Making false threats of school violence on social media is no joke. It is a topic taken extremely seriously, now more than ever considering the tragic events of this week in Uvalde, Texas.

The County Attorney’s Office, led by Jo Ann Bernal released a statement say they take threats of violence against schools, teachers, and children very seriously and prosecutes the cases referred to their office to the fullest extent of the law.

Under Texas Penal Code Section 42.06, false threats which place a person in fear of imminent bodily injury or cause a law enforcement agency to respond and involve a school campus, are a state jail felony.

According to the Texas Penal Code Section 42.06, a person commits a crime when:

(a) A person commits an offense if he knowingly initiates, communicates or circulates a report of a present, past, or future bombing, fire, offense, or other emergency that he knows is false or baseless and that would ordinarily:

(1) cause action by an official or volunteer agency organized to deal with emergencies;

(2) place a person in fear of imminent serious bodily injury; or

(3) prevent or interrupt the occupation of a building, room, place of assembly, place to which the public has access, or aircraft, automobile, or other mode of conveyance.

(b) An offense under this section is a Class A misdemeanor unless the false report is of an emergency involving a public or private institution of higher education or involving a public primary or secondary school, public communications, public transportation, public water, gas, or power supply or other public service, in which event the offense is a state jail felony.

Residents are urged to report threats of violence against students or teachers calling the school police or 9-1-1, and to save the evidence by taking a picture or video.

For her part, El Paso District Attorney Yvonne Rosales also released the following statement:

Many people have suffered the effects from the tragedies of mass violence. May we all continue to keep those affected by these senseless acts in our hearts and prayers. Threats of mass violence are taken very seriously by law enforcement and first responders.

Many resources go into responding to these threats. When a person reports a threat of mass violence, a chain of events is set into motion.

Many law enforcement personnel and first responders are called to the scene. If a report of an active shooter is made at a school (often spread through social media), then children, teachers, school staff, and their families become frightened and worried.

Mass hysteria, mass confusion, and miscommunication often occurs. When someone makes a false threat to either law enforcement or other emergency personnel, even as a “simple joke”, this chain of events is still set into motion.

The ramifications of a false threat are unnecessary; people still become horrified, and the time and efforts of emergency personnel are taken away from true emergencies.

The District Attorney’s office takes the crime of making a false threat very seriously, and it will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

District Attorney Yvonne Rosales

For local and breaking news, sports, weather alerts, video and more, download the FREE KTSM 9 News App from the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store.