These school names have become reminders of terrible deeds -- mass shootings that left dozens slain and devastated two communities. Merely mentioning either can stop us in our tracks and conjure up strong emotions, from anger to sorrow to terror.
This was not lost on the police in Ware Shoals, and when they learned that someone promised on Facebook to wreak more havoc than both shootings combined, they were quick to act. From the time the post was reported Friday -- including the time it took to ping the man's phone -- it took officers about an hour to bring him into custody. When new Facebook posts emerged this week that likewise seemed to threaten harm to Ware Shoals schools, police wasted little time in taking two others into custody, working well into the night to make sure those arrests were made before students arrived on school property.
The urgency everyone showed in keeping the children of Ware Shoals safe -- from school officials and police to those who saw fit to report these posts to authorities -- is heartening and all should be commended for the swift effort. Equally heartening are the steps the district has taken to ensure its kids remain safe, putting those three on trespass notice, distributing their photos to staff to keep them off school property and setting up alerts so the district office will know if any of the three post bond.
One could argue that the response was overblown -- that First Amendment protections to free speech should keep these three on the street and out of jail. Not all speech is protected, however, and children should not live in fear, nor should their parents, because adults saw fit to post terrifying words. Perhaps the real lesson from this ordeal is that, even in the age of social media, words matter.