CHURCH HILL — A Volunteer High School student who allegedly texted his ex-girlfriend a photo of a gun, a threatening message and a threat to bring the gun to school has been charged with assault.
A Hawkins County Sheriff's Office investigation revealed that the gun in the texted photo was an air pistol.
The threats were allegedly texted by the 15-year-old boy on Saturday, Aug. 31.
According to a report filed by HCSO Deputy Richard McGinnis, he and Volunteer High School Principal Bobby Wines met with the 17-year-old victim and her mother, who showed them the texts on Sept. 3
One text was allegedly a photo of the boy's hand holding the gun with the message, “I will shoot ya ass.”
In another message the boy allegedly stated, “I will bring it to school.”
Upon being questioned by McGinnis and Wines at school on Sept. 3, the boy allegedly admitted to sending the messages, noting that the gun was “a toy.”
The gun was not taken to school, however.
The boy's mother was called from work to meet McGinnis and Wines at the school that afternoon, and she reportedly authorized consent to search the boy's phone.
As a result of that investigation, McGinnis filed a petition against the boy in Hawkins County Juvenile Court on one count of assault.
Director of Schools Matt Hixson told the Times News on Monday that while the boy’s behavior was deemed a serious infraction, it was not a Zero Tolerance incident, and the boy was assigned to alternative school.
Zero Tolerance infractions, such as bringing a gun on campus, usually result in immediate expulsion for a minimum of one calendar year.
“We obviously took this very seriously,” Hixson said. “If a student makes a threat followed up by a picture showing he has access (to a gun), we are going to always err on the side of safety.”
Hixson added, “Student’s actions were determined not to be a Zero Tolerance event but were deemed serious in nature. Law enforcement was immediately consulted, law enforcement did take action, and the student was dealt with appropriately by site administration.”