Two teens detained after school shooting threat

By NICOLE SMITH
Posted 1/18/19

Two Walker County teens are being detained after a social media threat was made to enact a shooting at an unspecified school.Jasper Police Chief J.C. Poe and Walker County Sheriff Nick Smith …

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Two teens detained after school shooting threat

Posted

Two Walker County teens are being detained after a social media threat was made to enact a shooting at an unspecified school.

Jasper Police Chief J.C. Poe and Walker County Sheriff Nick Smith confirmed to the Daily Mountain Eagle that two 12-year-old Jasper City Schools students were being detained Thursday afternoon, one for making a shooting threat on social media and the other for making a separate, threatening message.

Smith said at 1 p.m. Thursday the Sheriff's Office received a call from an FBI task force that identified a threatening post to Twitter, claiming a shooting may occur at a school in Walker County around 2:40 p.m.  

"We got the identity of the IP address of the Twitter user, which came to a residence in Townley," Smith said.

Investigators with the Walker County Sheriff's Office went to the Townley residence, but the boy they were looking for wasn't home. He was later detained in Jasper.

Before the detainment, the Sheriff's Office and Jasper Police Department contacted Walker County and Jasper City school superintendents and took quick action to secure all campuses in the county.

"We notified all municipalities about the 2:40 p.m. threat, and we provided a deputy at every school that did not have a municipal police force, and the municipalities sent officers to each of their schools," Smith said.

All Jasper schools have an assigned school resource officer, but additional officers were placed at city schools.

Walker County Schools began a secure perimeter and heightened awareness procedure, while all Jasper City Schools went into full lockdown mode. City schools didn't release students until Jasper police issued an all-clear notification around 3:25 p.m. County schools released students at 3 p.m. as normal.

In addition to the 12-year-old juvenile being detained for making the threatening tweet, another 12-year-old turned himself in to the city police department Thursday.

"We had another situation that we had been investigating and following up on, where one boy had made some inappropriate comments about something going to happen," Poe said.

He said there is believed to be a connection between their original investigation and the threat made Thursday.

An investigation is ongoing, but Poe said both boys may face charges of making terroristic threats. They will later go before juvenile court authorities.

Jasper City Schools Superintendent of Education Dr. Ann Jackson said she is saddened to know a Jasper student made Thursday's threat and that another is being detained for possibly being involved. 

"It's disappointing. It's frightening that this would happen and any of our students would be involved in it," she said. "Whether it was a prank, whether it was serious, at any level, it's disturbing."

Jackson commended all police departments for their swift response that ultimately kept all students in the county safe.

Dr. Joel Hagood, superintendent of education for Walker County Schools, said he was also thankful for the work of law enforcement.

Due to the nature of the threat not being targeted to a specific school, Hagood said they opted to enact a soft lockdown procedure, that involved heightened awareness and an increased police presence.

"If there had been a specific threat, yes, we would've went straight into lockdown mode," he said. 

Poe shared a special message for youth, in light of Thursday's events.

"If they are angry at something or somebody, they need to sit down and talk it out with them. If they have issues with the school system, they need to get with their parents and make arrangements with the school to sit down and talk with them," he said. "They need to really guard their comments to other students, particularly on social media, because in today's world, comments like that can't be ignored or tolerated."