UPDATE: 5:33 p.m.
Three teenagers have been charged with filing a false police report after claiming a man with a baseball bat attacked them at a Kingsport school, making sexual advances in the process.
According to Kingsport police, the vindictive juveniles had in fact been vandalizing a baseball dugout on the property, with the good Samaritan stepping in to stop them. The youths responded by snapping the man's photo, showing it to a mother and concocting the story of an assault. She called police, setting off a brief search for the purported assailant before he was exonerated.
The incident occurred Saturday at John Sevier Middle School, 1200 Wateree Street, with the juveniles charged on Wednesday afternoon. KPD Lt. Bob Abernathy reports the minors, ages 13, 13 and 15, were jumping on a tin roof on the baseball field's dugout. The concerned citizen approached the teenagers and told them to stop, adding they could hurt themselves.
Abernathy says there were also reports of juveniles attempting to vandalize street signs in the area, striking them with a skateboard. The concerned citizen took a photo of the three youths at the ball field, with them leaving the scene and returning a few minutes later.
Police say they the minors then used a cell phone to snap a photo of the man. One of their mothers was shown the picture — and fed the story that they had been assaulted and told to take off their pants. The mother called police, with all the teenagers allegedly relaying the fictitious account to investigators.
Abernathy said the violent and sexual nature of the claims were taken seriously by police. Needing to speak with the man pictured and get both sides of the story, the KPD issued a public e-mail alert on Wednesday morning. It contained the photo of the man, asking for the public's assistance in identifying him, and relayed the juveniles' account of events. Contents from the KPD message were subsequently distributed across area media outlets.
Police say the e-mail alert, and response it generated from the public, helped locate the man in the picture — and determine the minors' story was false. The teens were interviewed by police once again, allegedly admitting their original account was totally fabricated.
They have each been charged with filing a false police report and will go through the juvenile court system. Abernathy said other charges may be pending.
The two 13-year-olds — one of whom was on probation prior to the weekend's events — attend Sevier Middle School. The 15-year-old is a student at Dobyns-Bennett High School.
Police thanked the general public for the quick response to the e-mail seeking information. Abernathy also expressed the department's gratitude to the man who stepped in to halt the juveniles' vandalism of the dugout. He said the man expressed no animosity towards police for releasing his photo while they were gathering information on the incident.
"He was doing what he was supposed to do as a good citizen," Abernathy said of the man. "And (the juveniles) retaliated in one of the worse ways you can."
John Sevier Middle School Principal Cookie Greer echoed the KPD's thanks to the man who stepped in to stop the teenagers.
"We treasure our school’s relationship with the members of our community, and we are so appreciative of those citizens who are willing to take a stand and do what is right to protect our buildings and campus," Greer said.
UPDATE: 2:28 p.m.
Three juveniles could face charges from police after allegedly falsely reporting a man had assaulted them outside a Kingsport school.
One of the children provided police a photo of their purported attacker, claiming it was taken with their cell phone during the Saturday incident. A Wednesday afternoon statement from police says the man has since been identified and, "Preliminary investigation indicates his involvement may simply not be as it was originally reported."
On Wednesday morning the juvenile's picture of the man was released to the public via the Kingsport Police Department's e-mail alert system, the KPD Blotter. The message also contained information on the alleged incident, as originally reported to police by the three teenagers.
They reportedly claimed to have been playing at John Sevier Middle School on Saturday afternoon. The man — who they said was carrying a baseball bat — allegedly attacked them and made demands.
Kingsport police say Wednesday's e-mail alert on the alleged incident, and subsequent response from the public, helped them quickly locate the man in the juvenile's picture.
Further investigation revealed no assault appears to have occurred, according to police, and charges against the three teenagers is being considered.
UPDATE: As of 1:20 p.m. police said the alleged suspect had been located and identfied.
Meanwhile, the juveniles who made the initial report were being interviewed by detectives at the police department.
Check back for more details at they develop.
Police are attempting to locate a man allegedly involved in an altercation with three juveniles at a Kingsport school.
One of the victims snapped a photo of the man with their phone, with police asking the public to help identify him.
The incident allegedly occurred at approximately 3:20 Saturday afternoon at John Sevier Middle School, 1200 Wateree Street. Kingsport police say three children, identified as teenaged, were playing on school grounds when approached by the suspect.
Anyone with information on the man, pictured above, is asked to contact Kingsport police at (423) 229-9429 or (423) 246-9111. The incident is under investigation.