The script for September’s monthly Neighborhood Watch meeting was probably a whole lot different before the disturbing events of Monday afternoon occurred.
Instead, a large portion of the meeting, which took place Tuesday night at the Greensville Ruritan Club, were dedicated to what happened at Greensville County High School the previous afternoon, when an otherwise routine school day was disrupted by 911 calls to police reporting an active shooter situation. This, thankfully turned out to be a hoax.
That same script played out at multiple schools across the Commonwealth, including South Hill Elementary, Ocean Lakes High School in Virginia Beach, and Booker T. Washington Elementary School in Suffolk. The FBI is currently investigating the situation to see if there is any connection between the calls.
Ricky Pinksaw, Chief of the Emporia Police Department, delivered an update on the situation to open the Neighborhood Watch meeting. He had nothing but praise for how swiftly all agencies responded to the matter, including his own EPD, the Greensville County Sheriff’s Office, and the Virginia State Police.
“Several months ago in the shooting that happened in Texas, you have a lot of delay. And what I saw was no delay,” said Pinksaw.
The initial call came around 12:30 p.m. Monday afternoon, where police were told specifically that 99 individuals were injured in a shooting that was in progress at Greensville County High School.
Although the authorities had little choice but to act with the highest urgency, Pinksaw had suspicions about the call immediately. These suspicions were confirmed when he arrived at the school and found a perfectly calm scene with no shooter in sight and no panic among students or teachers.
“I never really considered it to be a hoax until we started making entry throughout the school,” said Chief Pinksaw. “We saw that people were able to have conversation. The schools never knew anything…we surprised them. And if it had been an active shooter situation, probably, the schools would have been the one calling us.”
According to Pinksaw, the hoax call came from an out-of-country VoIP number. However, there are no leads as to the caller’s identity yet.
“It was an individual with a foreign accent and it originated out-of-country,” said Pinksaw. “It sounded almost computer-generated.”
For the next hour of the neighborhood watch meeting, Commonwealth’s Attorney Patricia Watson outlined all the changes made during the most recent session of the Virginia General Assembly and how they would affect the lives of citizens in the county. This covered everything from the banishment of officer quotas to the outlawing of the dangerous “Carolina Squat” car modification.
The next Greensville/Emporia Neighborhood Watch meeting will take place at the Johns Manville Clubhouse in Jarratt, and will be the last such meeting of 2022.