Student who prompted Hawkins County lockdown to be evaluated

Jeff Bobo • Sep 25, 2007 at 12:00 AM

ROGERSVILLE — The 16-year-old Hawkins County student accused of making threats to bring a gun to Volunteer High School last Thursday has been transported to a secure facility in Knoxville to receive a mental evaluation.

Those threats prompted Hawkins County Schools to lock down VHS, and ultimately the entire county school system as a precaution.

The boy was arrested Thursday afternoon following a six-hour search. Friday morning he appeared for arraignment in Hawkins County Juvenile Court and pleaded guilty to all but one of the charges that had been leveled against him the day before.

Among the charges he pleaded guilty to were evading arrest, resisting arrest, making a terrorist threat, and for being a runaway. He pleaded not guilty to making a false police report and is expected to answer that charge upon completion of his mental evaluation.

Police said the boy was staying with foster parents in Surgoinsville and attending VHS until being charged earlier this month with possession of marijuana on school grounds.

Under the school’s “zero tolerance” rules, he was then transferred to the alternative school in Rogersville.

Last Wednesday night the boy was reported as a runaway, and police later received information that he’d allegedly threatened to bring a gun to VHS. When police spotted him near campus Thursday around 8:30 a.m. the boy fled on foot and got away, and the school went into emergency lockdown mode.

Later the entire Hawkins County school system was placed on lockdown mode as a precaution. The boy was caught near the VHS campus shortly before 3 p.m.

Hawkins County Juvenile Court Judge James “Jay” Taylor said Tuesday he’s not at liberty to discuss many of the details of the boy’s case. The Times-News learned of the boy’s impending mental evaluation from multiple law enforcement sources, and Taylor would neither confirm nor deny the boy’s current lodgings.

Taylor did say, however, that the boy is not a threat to public schools in Hawkins County at this time.

“He’s not walking around free, but having said that I’m not able to divulge whose legal custody that he’s in,” Taylor said. “He is not currently in the community, he is not going to be on campus at any public school, and at this time there is no danger whatsoever from this particular individual to the community.”

Taylor added that a court date, not necessarily a trial, has been scheduled for the boy in one month, at which time his case will be reviewed and the next course of action will be determined.

One option, Taylor said, would be to prohibit the boy from attending public school ever again.

“Juvenile court can issue a restraining order against him that will be valid until he turns 19 years old,” Taylor said. “It would be unfair for me to say what I’m going to do with him when he comes back, but that is an option.”

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