Conway, S.C. — Police say 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz is the latest to make threats on social media and execute them at his former school. The threats are a nationwide issue, something law enforcement sees on a regular basis.
"There's no set rule book on this because we have to be able to balance people's freedom of speech and their right to be able to say certain things with the government's interest in intervening to protect people," he said.
Surfside Beach Police Chief Kenneth Hofmann says if his officers see a threat online, they'll reach out to that person. Hofmann said it's from a crisis point of view.
He said the First Amendment protects a lot of potential threats. Other officers we spoke with said if there is a threat that is credible and specific, it could lead to an arrest.
In the classrooms at the Horry County School District, the slogan is "See something, Say something." The idea: report threats to a counselor or teacher. School officials say they'll look at each threat.
"All (of) that is fully investigated. We have different parameters and procedures for handling certain type of investigations within the school," said Horry County School District spokesperson Lisa Bourcier.
Sandy Quast spent a few years as a mental health counselor in an Horry County school. She now works as a licensed professional counselor at Coastal Haven Counseling in Carolina Forest.
She said social media is a place where some cry out for help.
"They're letting other people know how they really feel and it's really important to get them someone they can trust to speak to, whether it's a counselor at school, private counselor, a teacher or a family member," she said.
Quast said warning signs for kids and teens who may need help are depression, isolation and not eating meals and spending time with friends and family.
Bourcier said the schools have a crime tipline. If you'd like to report an online threat, call 843-915-7767.