Sheriff’s office, school district release joint statement after students allegedly discuss ‘Columbine-style attack’

Sheriff’s office, school district release joint statement after students allegedly discuss ‘Columbine-style attack’
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SCOTLAND COUNTY, NC (WMBF) – The Scotland County Sheriff’s Office released a statement Wednesday morning after six students at Carver Middle School were charged for allegedly discussing a Columbine-style attack.

The students, who are all between the ages of 12 and 13, are charged with communicating threats of mass violence against a school campus, according to Lt. Jessica Sadovnikov with the SCSO.

Ina joint statement from SCSO and the Scotland County School Superintendent, Ron Hargrave, said:

"On Thursday, January 24, it was reported by two brave students to Carver’s administration that students had made threats online against students and staff at the school. Following policy and protocol, school administration immediately reported it to district administration and to law enforcement. School officials and the Sheriff’s Office investigators worked together to determine that there was no immediate physical threat to students or faculty. Upon Sheriff’s Office arrival on campus, they conducted a safety sweep and inspection of the school campus and declared it safe. The investigation continues and the school system and Sheriff’s Office remain committed to ensuring the safety of students and staff.

As in cases such as this, there have been multiple reports both in the news and on social media. Often times the factual information is not reported correctly or can be misinterpreted. Both the school system and Sheriff’s Office wanted to take the opportunity to clarify that there was never any ‘hit list’ that included any specific students’ names. The messages from the students did include the names of two staff members, but never any individual student names were mentioned. It was also reported that the threat was supposed to be carried out on Friday, January 25. Again, after preliminary investigations on Thursday, the Sheriff’s Office determined that the threat had been eliminated from the school and that the school was safe for normal operation on Friday. Scotland County Schools and the Scotland County Sheriff’s Office would not have allowed school to be held on Friday if we had any indication that the campus was unsafe for students and staff. During this investigation, both the school system and the Sheriff’s Office recognize that one area of improvement is how we communicate with each other and with our parents, guardians, staff, and community. Please know that we both are committed to improving this process.

Again, the school system and Sheriff’s Office are dedicated to ensuring that our schools remain safe and secure learning environments. We will both be reviewing our processes and will use this situation as a learning opportunity.

We remain committed partners in education and thank you for the trust you continue to place in us with the education and safety of your children."

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In a statement released Monday night, Scotland County Schools spokesperson Meredith Bounds said detectives asked school officials not to release any information to the public as the investigation was ongoing.

The statement reads, in part:

“Following policy and protocol, school administration immediately reported it to district administration and to law enforcement. Once reports such as these are turned over to law enforcement, they are in charge of the investigation. Detectives from the Scotland County Sheriff’s Department asked school officials not to release any information to the public about the incident while the investigation was on-going and until otherwise instructed. It was quickly determined that there was no immediate threat to students and staff, so as not to hamper the ongoing investigation, Scotland County Schools complied with law enforcement’s request and refrained from making any public comment. Any threats of violence against our schools are a serious matter and are subject to disciplinary actions as well as potential criminal charges.”

However, the school’s statement appeared to be at odds with the sheriff’s office, with deputies saying, in part:

“The Sheriff’s Office at no time, instructed any staff or member of the school board or school to refrain from informing parents or family, and at no time instructed the school to stop or prevent the staff members from taking further action such as ordering a lock down, or continuing in a safety sweep or inspection of the school.”

According to the statement, two middle school students initially reported the posting to school staff. Sadovnikov said the school resource officer was then alerted.

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