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BREAKING NEWS: Threat Made Against Pike County Schools Overnight; Student Has Been Detained

ZEBULON - Around midnight last night, a long discussion began on Facebook regarding an Instagram post in which a 9th grade student was said to have threatened students in the Pike County School System. The original post stated that both the Pike County Board of Education and the Pike County Sheriff’s Office had been made aware of the situation and had a copy of the threatening Instagram post.

At 7:21 a.m. this morning, a message went out by phone to parents with students in the Pike County School System to make them aware of a situation that happened overnight regarding the safety of their children. The message read as follows:

“Good morning. Late last evening, the District was made aware of a threatening Instagram post from a 9th grade student. The school district and Sheriff’s Department worked throughout the night to ensure the situation was contained and all students would be safe. A special thank you to those parents who are monitoring their students’ social media accounts and made us aware of the situation. Thank you and have a great day.”

The Pike County Sheriff’s Office put out a post on its Facebook account this morning around the same time and later issued a press release that read as follows:

“The Sheriff’s Office was made aware of a social media post made by a student last night that was of a threatening nature toward the school system. Investigators immediately identified and located the juvenile. The school system and Sheriff’s Office have take[n] the necessary steps to appropriately deal with the juvenile. Due to the suspect being a juvenile and possible medical issues no further information can be given.

The schools are safe at this time.”

Pike County Times started making phone calls around 7:30 this morning to find out more about this situation. Major David Neal of the Pike County Sheriff’s Office advised that shortly after the complaint was made to the Sheriff’s Office, the suspect had been identified and that both deputies and investigators were at the residence of the juvenile.

When asked whether or not the juvenile had been arrested and whether the schools were safe, Major Neal advised that the student “is being charged criminally” and he had already stated in the Facebook post that "...The schools are safe at this time."

What does this mean?

After reading back through the notices above, two things stand out that the schools and law enforcement are not going to be able to say in a quote or press release--especially when reading the phrase, “The school system and Sheriff’s Office have take[n] the necessary steps to appropriately deal with the juvenile.”

First, the student has been detained and will be going through the juvenile justice system, and he is being criminally charged for this. Second, “possible medical issues” were noted in the press release from the Sheriff’s Office. Here is a breakdown of how juveniles are handled in our justice system because they are not put into jail like adults, but there is a process that must be followed.

The process for juvenile offenders is that they are taken to a Youth Detention Center (YDC) rather than jail. And if there are medical issues as noted above, they are turned over to a facility for an evaluation before being turned over to the Department of Juvenile Justice through a YDC facility because it would be important to determine whether the juvenile is a threat to themselves or to others.

Information from the Department of Juvenile Justice website provides the following information: “Regional Youth Detention Centers (RYDCs) are secure short-term centers for youth awaiting trial or waiting to enter a community program or long-term facility. Youth Development Campuses (YDCs) are secure long-term facilities for youth sentenced or committed to DJJ custody by juvenile courts. Community Services Offices (CSOs) are where DJJ staff members provide intake, case management, practical supervision, detention planning and aftercare supervision.”

Pike County Times will continue to follow this case and provide whatever information can be made available.

UPDATED 1.24.18 AT 11:50 AM:

This note was uploaded and shared on Facebook today by the Chair of the Pike County Board of Education, Ryan Edge. I obtained permission to add this to my article and am posting it exactly as it was written on Facebook.

"Please understand the school system understands the seriousness of this situation. Upon finding out about the incident, the school system in cooperation with the sheriff's dept acted swiftly and the issue was addressed and resolved. Please understand that the student IS NOT at school. Due to the juvenile status, no information by law can be released pertaining to that individual or the specific incident. All schools were immediately made aware last night and every protocol was immediately put in place to ensure the safety of the students. Please know that EVERY incident is always taken very serious. We would always rather be super cautious than not in dealing with issues like this."

G. Ryan Edge
Board Chair
Pike County Board of Education

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