Police investigate after student made threat at St. James Middle School

Parents of St. James Middle students react to threat

HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WMBF) - It used to be that a child’s biggest worries about school were what would be on the lunch menu or maybe the games at recess.

Today, kids are worrying about threats and their safety.

Officials with Horry County Schools are working to make sure their students are protected when threats are made. The principal of Saint James Middle School sent an email to all parents saying a student made a statement in a class that other students heard.

That statement prompted a call to Horry County police, who addressed an incident between two boys.

According to a Horry County Police Department report, a school resource officer found the boys arguing over which would hit the other first. Several portions of the police report were redacted.

The incident is being investigated by the school and local law enforcement.

District officials said no threat is taken lightly and their first reaction is to notify law enforcement.

“What takes place is basically a parallel investigation. School administration conducts their investigation to determine if there’s been any infractions with the student code of conduct, while of course law enforcement brings their resources to bare and attempts to determine if a crime’s been committed," said David Beaty, coordinator of school safety and security for Horry County Schools.

For Amelia Walker, a mother of a St. James Middle School student, the worry of any kind of threat is every day.

“It is something that’s always on your mind; what school is gonna be next?" Walker said.

Walker’s daughter went to school Friday but she didn’t want to stay.

“It felt a little out of ordinary and it felt like everything was weird,” St. James eighth grader Emily Walker said.

She added there were only around eight students Friday morning on an otherwise normally-filled bus.

Another mother, Shannon Brown, said her child loves school and didn’t want to miss class because of someone else’s actions.

Brown constantly talks to her daughter about safety, but sending her to school every day feels like a nightmare.

“I know the kids are not supposed to be on their phones but it’s unfortunate because I text my child every hour because I’m paranoid I’m gonna get a phone call that something’s happened,” Brown said.

Beaty added that even if a threat is made as a joke, there are consequences.

“We’re gonna take it serious; it’s serious business,” he said. “On the law enforcement side, it could result in criminal charges. And from a disciplinary point of view, consequences can approach or include expulsion.”

Emily Walker has a message for all students.

“If you don’t feel safe, don’t go," she said. "Be careful, tell your parents.”

Horry County police said this is an active investigation. WMBF News reached out to the school administration for a comment but haven’t heard back yet.

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