Schools, police received tips about middle school social media threat

by Kate Evans

Morgan County Sheriff’s Deputies took a Warm Springs Middle School student into custody early Thursday, January 23 over alleged threats made against the middle school through social media.

Morgan County Schools said in a Facebook post that they received information around 11:00 p.m. on Wednesday, January 22 about a possible threat to the middle school and that they contacted police immediately.

School administration and the Morgan County Sheriff’s Department worked swiftly to deal with the safety concern.

Morgan County Sheriff K.C. Bohrer said in a press release his department immediately started working with Morgan County Schools Superintendent Kristen Tuttle and school officials to determine the source of the threat and also with the FBI. According to the sheriff, law enforcement also consulted with Morgan County Prosecutor Dan James and as of around 12:30 a.m. that night a juvenile was taken into police custody by Lieutenant Seth Place and Deputy Dennis Jenkins.

Superintendent Tuttle said on Thursday that middle school student that made the social media threat was a male student. She declined to say the student’s grade. Tuttle said that the threat was more to the school and its students and not to staff.

Tuttle said students shared the post with their parents that night and two different parents contacted her and the Sheriff’s Department in a Facebook message about the potential threat.

Morgan County 911 Dispatch Center also received a call about the same time and Warm Springs Middle School Principal Jamie Harris was contacted by another parent.

Tuttle said that she and Harris met with parents that were involved in the situation Thursday morning in person or talked with them by phone.

Tuttle said school officials never know the intent or if it’s teens just talking or creating drama, but they have to proceed with an abundance of caution.

“We are confident that all are safe. We look forward to seeing your student in school today at Warm Springs Middle School and across the county,” school officials said in their social media post.

“We believe at this time there is no reason to believe there is any further safety concerns to students or schools. Morgan County Sheriff’s Department and Morgan County Schools work together daily to ensure the safety of our students and take all threats or safety concerns seriously and act accordingly,” the Sheriff wrote.

Tuttle said the school system appreciates the relationship they have with the Morgan County Sheriff’s Department and parents doing the right thing and reporting the threat to them immediately so they were able to act quickly. They were able to wrap things up in about an hour and a half.

She also advised parents to be mindful of their kids’ social media activity and if there was anything concerning to report it.

“It takes a team to have this outcome. I’m glad we have that,” Tuttle said.

Multiple Sheriff’s department cruisers were at the middle school during the morning drop-off period for students on Thursday. Superintendent Tuttle and the School Resource Officer Cpl. Kevin Barney were also at the school Thursday morning.