Gun Threats or a Big Misunderstanding?
By PJ Martin Jobe Publishing, Inc. – The following account is information extracted entirely from an interview conducted with a 16-year-old juvenile and his father. Their real names have been omitted for the sake of anonymity. The juvenile will be referred to as John Doe and his father will be called Mr. Doe.
Each law enforcement and school official named within was contacted, but all were unable to respond at this time because it is an ongoing investigation, which pertains to a juvenile.
It seems as if every time you turn on the news or log on to social media you hear about another child related issue. Bullying, cyberattacks, school shootings and suicides are becoming much too common place, not just in larger cities, but in smaller, rural towns as well; Even right here at home.
John Doe, a student at the Metcalfe County High School, is being charged with Terroristic Threatening, 2nd degree and Solicitation Assault, 1st degree. According to John Doe and his Father, John was barred from finishing the school year and transferred to online class work. He is not allowed on school property or at any school events held elsewhere. Since being banned from school premises, he has taken a job to help support his single-parent family.
Monday, April 23, 2018
At approximately 8:30 a.m., John was beginning his 1st – period biology class and the class was talking freely among themselves. John was talking to his friends and the subject of shooting Airsoft guns and shooting sports teams came up. During the conversation, John said, “I wish we could shoot in school.”
According to John, he meant that he would like to participate in a marksmanship class held during school hours. Currently, the school has a marksmanship and gun safety class, but it is held at a different location and after school hours.
The biology teacher, Kelly Shaw, overheard the comment and immediately notified the school’s office as protocol dictates in such situations. John said that just minutes later, the Student Resource Office (SRO) Deputy Joshua Neal, Principle Kelly Bell, and Vice-Principle Timothy Cadle entered the classroom and escorted John to the office where Neal and Cadle questioned him at length. According to John, they repeatedly asked him questions such as: “Are we going to find drugs or bullets in the school? Do you want to do a school shooting? Do you ever have thoughts of killing yourself or anyone else?”
During this time Director of Pupil Personnel, Chris Huffman arrived and joined in the questioning. Afterward, Neal read John his rights and he was taken to the Metcalfe County Sheriff’s office. No parent was present or made aware of the situation during the questioning. Cadle notified Mr. Doe by phone as John was being transported to the sheriff’s office.
Mr. Doe stated that Cadle called him and asked that he come to the school because John had gotten in some type of trouble. When he arrived at the high school, he was told that his son had actually been arrested for “trying to do a school shooting” and he needed to go to the sheriff’s office.
According to John’s account of the incident which resulted in his charges, he was questioned again at the Sheriff’s office by Neal and Sheriff Rondal Shirley who were joined by Huffman. Later, Mr. Doe was allowed to see his son and was informed by Shirley that his son was being charged with terroristic threatening for saying he was going to do a school shooting. Mr. Doe stated that he told Shirley, “My son doesn’t even own
any weapons.” He was then told by Shirley that John was reported as trying to get people to join him in doing a school shooting.
John further stated that while writing the citation, Neal asked him if he’d ever had any thoughts of or wanted to hurt or kill himself to which he replied “no.” Then Neal asked if you were to want to hurt yourself or someone else, how he would go about it. John said he felt very uncomfortable when he was asked this, but thought a few minutes and answered, “We live in the woods so I’d probably wind up hanging myself.” At that point Neal added the statement “he wishes he would die,” to the citation notes, John was then arrested, handcuffed, and transported to the Lifeskills Children’s Crisis Stabilization Unit (CCSU) in Bowling Green.
Mr. Doe reports that he was unaware of these questions/statements until he received a call late that night from Neal (who stated he was at his second job). Mr. Doe stated that Neal asked him, do you know your son wants to kill himself and your son wants to hang himself in a tree, what’s the motive behind that?
“So, I came home and could not even think about a wink of sleep, because I just found out my kid wants to kill himself,” explained Mr. Doe.
Tuesday, April 24, 2018
Around 8:00 a.m., Shirley, Neal, and Huffman arrived at the home of Mr. Doe and asked to search the house. No warrant was produced. Mr. Doe agreed to the search saying, “I knew there wasn’t anything there.” According to Mr. Doe the Sheriff abruptly ended the search and told him that nothing was found in the home shared by the father and his two sons. Later that same day, Neal asked Mr. Doe for his son’s phone advising that he would get a warrant. Mr. Doe released his son’s phone to Neal. John even provided the password so the phone could be searched. Again, no warrant was produced.
Saturday, April 28, 2018
John was allowed to return home. Mr. Doe stated that the therapist had called him on Wednesday and told him his son exhibited normal behavior, and they did not see any reason for him to stay there any longer, and he could pick him up on Saturday.
Thursday, May 3, 2018
The following Thursday, John had a follow-up appointment with the Lifeskills therapist and he and his father were read the statements given to Lifeskills the night of the arrest. The therapist reported that they could find nothing indicating that John told anyone that he wanted to shoot up the school.
That same day, John and his father met with a Court Designated Worker (CDW) with the Diversion Program in Metcalfe County, who explained the charges and advised that he [John] could admit guilt and go through the diversion program or take it to a judge and explain what was going on. John refused, saying, “I am not going to admit to something that I did not do.” The CDW also advised that the questioning that occurred without a parent/guardian present was a violation of John’s civil rights and his fathers as well. The CDW then informed them that they could pick up John’s cell phone at the Sheriff’s office that day. The Sheriff told Mr. Doe that nothing of interest was found on the phone.
Wednesday, June 6, 2018
An arraignment was held and the judge appointed a lawyer since the family cannot afford to hire an attorney. The next court date is scheduled for July.
Metcalfe County Superintendent Benny Lile provided the following statement, “Any issue regarding school and student safety is treated with the utmost urgency. We have specific practices in place for a number of different scenarios. I commend our staff and school resource officer for consistently following policy and procedure. In all cases, student safety is first and foremost while at the same time balancing individual student rights. Over the past several years it has become more prevalent for law enforcement and the courts to get immediately involved in certain discipline situations. Our school district strives to operate in a conscientious and consistent manner in all cases.”