Kingsport Times News Wednesday, October 22, 2014

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Two Gate City High students arrested for allegedly threatening to shoot classmate

October 4th, 2013 6:07 pm by Wes Bunch

Two Gate City High students arrested for allegedly threatening to shoot classmate

To read the initial report on the incident, click here.

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GATE CITY  —  Two Gate City High School students were arrested by local authorities early Friday after they allegedly made threats to shoot a fellow student at school.

Scott County Sheriff John Puckett said a 17-year-old boy and 16-year-old girl were taken into custody by deputies early Friday morning and charged with conspiracy to commit murder.

Puckett said investigators felt the pair made a credible threat to shoot another student at the school.

“We take all incidents like this seriously,” Puckett said. “When we get information like this, we have to work on it. In this instance, everything turned out all right. No one went to school with a gun and no one got hurt.”

The alleged threat caused law enforcement and school officials to place the Gate City High School/Middle School complex on a soft lockdown for several hours Friday as a precautionary measure.

Puckett said the lockdown also allowed Virginia State Police agents and Scott County authorities to search the school premises with a K9 to rule out the presence of guns or explosives.

A similar sweep of the property had been conducted late Thursday night into early Friday morning. No weapons were found during either search.

According to a statement released Friday morning by Gate City High School Principal Greg Ervin, the lockdown resulted from an indirect threat made by two students against another individual at the school.

“There have been many stories circulated on social media, but the individuals involved have been identified and charges are pending,” Ervin said in the statement. “These individuals no longer have access to school grounds.”

Ervin said any potential threat had been addressed and added that the school was cleared by a Virginia State Police K9 unit.

“While we understand the concern of parents when any threat is made, we currently have additional law enforcement officers on grounds throughout the school day,” Ervin said at the time. “The school is safe and we will continue to operate on a normal schedule.”

Scott County Schools Superintendent John Ferguson said neither of the students in custody had been on school grounds at any point Friday.

“The steps that were taken today were a precaution to rule out the possibility of anything happening,” Ferguson said.

Puckett said local and state law enforcement were made aware of the threat Thursday evening after receiving reports of a Facebook post that alluded to the shooting threat.

“There was a statement made on Facebook that some students were going to come to school Friday morning and shoot someone,” Puckett said.

Puckett said the student who made the post happened to overhear the suspects discussing their plans and was not connected with the threats.

After contacting the author of the Facebook post, VSP agents and sheriff’s office investigators reportedly interviewed the male student involved in the incident before taking him into custody.

The boy initially told police the shooting threat was a rumor concocted to get school called off early Friday, before admitting that he and the female student in question had planned to shoot a classmate.

Puckett said the boy told investigators that he had planned to lure the potential victim to a certain area of the school building so the girl could carry out the shooting.

Following that interview, authorities obtained a search warrant to search the girl’s house before also arresting her.

No weapons were reportedly found at either of the residences.

Both law enforcement and school officials said no students were in danger of being harmed at any point during the school day Friday.

“We stopped the threat after we arrested the boy early this morning,” Puckett said. “So we felt there was no need to close the schools down.”

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