Teens allegedly planned Columbine-style shooting at middle school

Wednesday, January 30, 2019
Teens allegedly planned Columbine-style shooting
Six students, between the ages of 12 and 13, are accused of planning a Columbine-style attack on their school

SCOTLAND COUNTY, North Carolina -- Law enforcement and school officials are investigating after six students, between the ages of 12 and 13, were planning a Columbine-style attack on their school, according to the Scotland County Sheriff's Office.

A statement from the sheriff's office Wednesday said two students told school staff that they believed the students would shoot people at the school Jan. 25.

A Carver Middle School employee alerted the school resource officer about suspicious posts on Instagram on Jan. 24.

Officials determined that the six students were discussing a Columbine-style attack in a manner that made investigators think they were serious, according to Capt. Jessica Sadovnikov.

A captain with the Scotland County Sheriff's Office on Tuesday night said the students face felony charges of communicating a threat of mass violence on school property.

Superintendent Ron Hargrave said he is proud of the students who spoke up and alerted the school.

"Because of that, because students were brave enough to come forward, our campus is safe," he said.

On Tuesday night, parents gathered at Carver Middle School, demanding answers from school leaders for nearly two hours. According to WRAL, they packed the library, their hands popping in the air, their questions tinged with anger.

While the principal, superintendent and school resource officer stood at the front of the room, one mother wiped away tears as parents demanded to know why the school didn't notify them sooner.

"Please put something in writing or in some type of policy where the school system is allowed to inform the parents before news media puts it out, because that's what really upset me," parent Sonya Thomas said.

Hargrave said the sheriff's office initially requested that the school system not make any public announcement.

"They didn't want students erasing stuff that they were going to have the opportunity to confiscate and see what they were talking about," he said.

"And we removed the threat as immediately as anybody possibly could," Sheronica Smith, the school's resource officer, said.

However, in a statement Wednesday, the sheriff's office said in a statement that it "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."

Authorities said the students have been removed. Sadovnikov said she is seeking to have all of the students put in a juvenile jail.

In Wednesday's statement, the sheriff's office said a student, who was not involved in planning the shooting, allegedly tried to physically assault the two students who first told school staff about the possible attack. That student will be charged with communicating threats upon students.