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North Carolina school shooting prevented after students “Say Something” to get help

NEWTOWN, Conn. — A tragedy was recently averted in North Carolina, when Sandy Hook Promise’s National Crisis Center for their Say Something Anonymous Reporting System (SS-ARS) received multiple calls and texts about a student’s violent plan for a mass school shooting attack.

The Crisis Center team worked with district officials and local authorities to uncover the direct threat indicating that the student intended to do harm at the elementary, middle, and high schools in Elkin City. The Say Something anonymous tips led to the district shutting down all schools for the day for further investigation. Later, an arrest was made as the threat was determined to be credible. The student had both a plan and access to a weapon.

“If it wasn’t for those students speaking up, the day could have ended in tragedy,” said Elkin City Schools Superintendent Myra Cox. “The Say Something program gave students the information and anonymous reporting tools they needed to take action.”

Sandy Hook Promise created the Say Something program to empower students to act on what they see and hear, in order to help others and avert tragedies. Extensive research, including a federal report on Averting Targeted School Violence, proves that by learning the warning signs and getting help, violence can effectively be prevented.

“I’m grateful to the students who likely saved many lives with their courageous actions,” said Nicole Hockley, co-founder and CEO of Sandy Hook Promise and mother of Dylan, who was killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy. “Students are often the first to know when there is cause for safety concerns. By encouraging more students to learn the warning signs, empowering them to speak up and giving them an easy, anonymous way to ‘say something,’ we can prevent more tragedies from happening.”

More than 18.5 million youth and adults have participated in SHP’s Know the Signs programs in schools and youth organizations nationwide. To date, SS-ARS has responded to more than 171,000 tips, averted at least 14 credible school shooting attacks, and saved more than 400 young lives from suicide (February 2023). The National Crisis Center and SS-ARS are proven approaches that prevent school shootings and violence.

There were 46 school shootings in 2022, more than in any year since the Columbine tragedy. As a result, 34 students and adults were killed,” said Hockley. “Lives are saved when students and community members know the warning signs, speak up, and get help. Let’s get prevention programs in every school so we can protect more lives.”


Sandy Hook Promise (SHP) envisions a future where all children are free from school shootings and other acts of violence. As a national nonprofit organization, SHP’s mission is to educate and empower youth and adults to prevent violence in schools, homes, and communities. Creators of the life-saving, evidence-informed “Know the Signs” prevention programs, SHP teaches the warning signs of someone who may be in crisis, socially isolated, or at-risk of hurting themselves or others and how to get help. SHP also advances school safety, youth mental health, and responsible gun ownership at the state and federal levels through nonpartisan policy and partnerships. SHP is led by several family members whose loved ones were killed in the tragic mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012. 

Media Contact:

Aimee Thunberg | [email protected] | 646-761-5579