Two Floyd County middle school students were charged with felonies after allegedly bringing three knives to school property.
Assistant Floyd County Attorney Meka Hall-Castle and Sgt. Kevin Shepherd with the Floyd County Sheriff’s Department reported that two 13-year-old female students at John M. Stumbo Elementary were charged Friday, Sept. 13, with unlawful possession of a weapon on school property, a felony.
“One of them was a steak knife,” Hall-Castle said. “And the other two were like pocket knives.”
Shepherd described the two knives that appeared to be pocket knives as “lock-blade knives, like a pocket knife, but bigger ... probably 6 to 7 inches long when they were open.”
One of the girls was also charged with a misdemeanor count of third-degree terroristic threatening related to the investigation into an incident that allegedly occurred on Tuesday, Sept. 10.
Hall-Castle said school officials received reports about alleged “indirect threats” that were made.
“My understanding of it is there was no type of direct threat to any student. It was more indirect, just hear-say, word-of-mouth, kind of hearing things,” Hall-Castle said.
Shepherd, who works as a School Resource Officer at John M. Stumbo, said officials there contacted him last Tuesday to help interview students.
He said through those interviews, officials were able to locate three knives at the school, one of which was hidden in a bathroom.
“I don’t remember them actually coming out and saying what they were going to do with them, but bringing them onto school campus was enough, you know. I thought it was pretty serious,” Shepherd said.
He reported that some students saw a knife and reported it. He also said a male student made a report about what he perceived to be a threat.
When asked why one of the students was charged with terroristic threatening, Shepherd said, “Just the way that the first student perceived the initial complaint. Once we got into it, it was how he perceived what was said. It was never, ‘I’m going to stab you,’ or something to that nature, but it was how he perceived what happened, based on the conversation that he heard the day before.”
He said last Monday that a male student heard a rumor that made him feel threatened.
“The day before, the student that made the initial complaint was told something by one of the students that a surprise was coming, and from what he perceived, he perceived that to be a threat toward him, the way he explained it to myself and to some staff,” Shepherd said. “He elaborated on it a little bit more, saying that he felt threatened. We were told that somebody overheard there was a knife, or they were bringing a knife. We checked, through interviews, and we never could come up with someone saying they heard these people say they were bringing knives. So, I think based off him hearing someone may have said there was knives in school, were going to be brought, and him being told about a surprise — I think he took that, you know, to his self, I don’t what his level of being afraid was, but he was worried enough that he made a phone call.”
He said they interviewed every student mentioned in the investigation and could not come up with any information about these two teenagers threatening the boy.
“Anytime we’d ask them about threats, it was denied,” Shepherd said.
He is continuing the investigation.
Floyd County Schools Superintendent Danny Adkins said the incident is being “taken very seriously.”
“I want the public to know that this is being taken very seriously and we are still, it’s still an ongoing investigation and the process is moving forward,” he said. “We will see where law enforcement goes with it from here. But we are taking it very seriously. And this won’t be tolerated in our school system.”
The school district’s policy for having a knife on school property requires a 10-day suspension. Adkins said the result of the investigation will determine what actions, if any, are taken against the girls.
“It’s been taken very seriously. School safety is our top priority ... We’re challenged with two things, to keep our children safe and to give them an education. And keeping them safe is our top priority,” Adkins said.
Hall Castle said the two teenagers will be processed through the court system. She also talked about a juvenile crime law that gives minors the opportunity to enter a diversion program the first time they face a criminal charge.
“All juveniles are entitled to one diversion, automatic diversion,” she said. “There’s certain elements that have to be looked at to even see if a child could be considered to be tried as a youthful offender. There’s a list of factors that you have to meet, and I don’t have all of them in front of me right now. I’ve done two of them since I’ve actually been in the county attorney’s office, and I don’t believe they actually meet that to even amount to being a youthful offender. But, they will be processed through court.”
Through the diversion program, minors accused of crimes work with a court designated worker to negotiate a diversion agreement in which the minor pays restitution, provides community service, undergoes counseling and/or meets other requirements as determined by the court.