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Officials: Student made threats against Unicoi County High School

By Kendal Groner

Threats that a Unicoi County High School student allegedly made against fellow classmates have resulted in criminal charges.

On Tuesday, Feb. 20, Unicoi County High School administration received a report from another student that threats were made at an off site location. After receiving the report, Director of Schools John English said the school resource officer and other faculty began talking with the student who reportedly placed the threats, as well as other classmates.

“At the higher grades you get a little more of this. … but this is a different level,” English said. “We’re at a time now where ‘I was kidding or I didn’t mean it’ doesn’t work anymore. We are always teaching our students to be careful with what they are going to say.”

After a concerned parent contacted the Unicoi County Sheriff’s Department later that day, law enforcement began collecting statements. Unicoi County Sheriff Mike Hensley said that several statements indicated that the student did in fact issue the threats.

“I take it serious, I have to,” Hensley stated.

After collecting multiple statements, the Unicoi County Sheriff’s Department contacted the district attorney general in order to place charges against the juvenile.

“Based upon the statements we have, we had enough information to issue a juvenile petition on the individual,” said Hensley. “We got the green light to go ahead and charge this boy. We did arrest the individual, and they are currently being held at the detention center.”   

Hensley also said that the juvenile will be undergoing a psychiatric evaluation. Currently, the juvenile is charged with two counts of assault and one count of reckless endangerment.

Due to the nature of the threats, some students were fearful to attend school, giving grounds for the assault charge.

“For me, it’s about stressing the importance of having open lines of communication with our students, staff, and families,” English said. “If there is any noise or threats they get wind of, certainly please report that so, not only me and my staff, but law enforcement can take a deeper look at it. I can’t emphasize enough the importance of reporting what doesn’t feel, sound, or look right.”

Because the individual charged in this case is a minor, his name has not been released by law enforcement.