Locust Police refute social media posts of intended violence

A post on Facebook Monday claiming violent protests and actions were coming to Locust was refuted by its police department.

The original post stated Locust police had come around one neighborhood and told residents to stay inside due to a tip received.

“(Locust Police) got a tip that a black organization is bringing 2 bus loads of people to Wal-Mart in Locust with intentions on looting and burning down the suburbs,” the original post said in part.

The post went on to claim Walmart was barricaded and had extra security, along with Food Lion.

Monday at 11:50 p.m. the Locust Police stated in a response to the post “NO Locust officer has been to anyone’s door this evening to advise any resident to stay inside or warn about any group of any race or ethnicity burning houses or looting.”

Assistant Police Chief Jeff Shew said they had received a number of phone calls in regards to the post.

“That’s when we decided we were going to address it by being prepared,” Shew said.

Shew said the office made contact with one person who had posted the information who responded by saying that is what they had heard. Prosecuting anyone could be difficult, he added, because of what may or may not be protected speech.

If posts like this become chronic, Shew said, the police could explore options and see what potential charges were available if they could pinpoint exactly who started the posts.

Even if the original post had very little validity, Shew said Locust was going to be prepared, which is why their department called the Stanly County Sheriff’s Office. The assistant chief added the Sheriff’s Office did provide an additional presence in the area.

“I can’t put even into words how much he assisted and how great his response was,” Shew said referring to Sheriff Jeff Crisco and his department.

Shew also said Locust contacted Cabarrus County Sheriff Van Shaw regarding the information because parts of Locust are located in the neighboring county.

“We have a really good working relationship with Cabarrus County,” Shew said.

The police department’s post further stated “no businesses have been barricaded out of caution” adding “every post we have personally seen on social media either did not happen or has not been confirmed.”

Shew said no businesses were contacted and advised to close early, nor were any barricaded, as the original post had claimed.

Regarding the city’s response, Shew said, “Obviously we just wanted to act out of an abundance of caution, and we will do that every single time.”