The Oak Ridge Police Department has charged three students with terrorism and threats of mass violence after they allegedly made school shooting threats in two separate incidents on social media on Monday and Tuesday.
The charges were filed in Anderson County Juvenile Court on Wednesday afternoon, and the court authorized the detention of the children in the Richard L. Bean Detention Facility in Knox County. The children were taken into custody Wednesday afternoon, Seventh Judicial District Attorney General Dave Clark said.
All three juveniles were charged with terrorism, threat of mass violence on school property, and false report. Two of the children were allegedly involved in a shooting threat posted on Snapchat on Monday, and they were also charged with conspiracy. That threat led to a lockdown at Oak Ridge High School on Monday. The third child was allegedly involved in a separate shooting threat that was posted on Snapchat on Tuesday, and that student will face the first three charges.
Clark said the children are required to have a detention hearing quickly under Tennessee law, and that hearing could occur as soon as Thursday afternoon in Anderson County Juvenile Court.
“The message should be loud and clear to adults and juveniles alike that making threats over social media or in any way that are directed at our schools, children, or staff will not be tolerated,” Clark said in a press release. “This is a very serious matter, and the law enforcement community and the judicial system in Anderson County will respond accordingly. We are concerned to see that two such incidents have occurred within the same week.”
In an email to families, Oak Ridge Schools said the three students did not have access to weapons, and they did not plan to harm students or staff.
“Their sole purpose was to disrupt classes, create fear, and cause a school closure, which is disappointing,” the schools’ email said.
Now, the school system said, the three students are restricted from attending school.
“The actions of these students have created a major disruption that will be addressed with severe consequences,” the email to families said.
“Moving forward, we will continue to address all threats as being serious and will immediately reach out to the Oak Ridge Police Department for support,” Oak Ridge Schools said. “Regardless of intent, any student making a threat will be expelled, pending due process, and will face criminal charges.”
The ORPD will continue to investigate and assess the credibility of threats, Oak Ridge Schools said.
Clark said students, parents, teachers, and staff lost educational time and were understandably upset about the threats this week.
“The Oak Ridge Police Department directed staff to immediately provide security at multiple schools and for the Criminal Investigation Division to find those responsible,” Clark said. “Understandably, many parents responded quickly to remove their students from school. The inconvenience, cost, and mental anguish caused by these incidents is of great concern. This has touched the lives of many people. Other crime victims in unrelated cases may have had justice delayed due to the re-direction of police resources.”
More information will be added as it becomes available.
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