IHS student arrested for threats

Published 7:24 am Thursday, November 30, 2017

Told authorities he was ‘joking’

Ironton High School was put on heightened status Wednesday morning after a freshman made threats of harm.

Ironton School Superintendent Dean Nance said after school had started for the day, he was notified that a student had received a text message “that another student had heard that another student had heard that an individual had said that they might harm themselves. There was not a screen shot. It wasn’t a social media situation.”

“We were never at a point where there was an imminent threat,” Nance said.

Email newsletter signup

Once the school officials heard about the situation, they found the student was not in school and notified law enforcement.

“We sent an officer to his house immediately because the kid who supposedly said it was not in school,” Nance said. “He was in custody within minutes of school starting.”

He said the school went into a heightened alert, not a lockdown.

“We had not determined whether there was a true threat, but we take all threats seriously,” Nance said. “So, no one was leaving or entering the school. There were four or five officers here at the high school, the middle school and the elementary.”

The Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office was notified about the threats around 8:30 a.m. Deputies and Ironton Police officers arrived at the school to investigate. Ironton Police officers went to the student’s house, found him there and took him into custody.

Sheriff’s Office detectives interviewed the student and his parent.

The student admitted that he had made the threatening statement but that he was only ‘joking.’

Detectives consulted with the Lawrence County Prosecutor’s Office and it was decided to arrest the student for delinquency by inducing panic. He was then transported to the Lawrence County Juvenile Detention Center.

“All threats against our schools are taken very seriously,” said Lawrence County Sheriff Jeff Lawless. “We do not consider it a joke to threaten our children and doing so will be met with criminal charges.”

Nance said the school’s biggest concern was that the student might try to harm himself.

“There was multiple reasons to send people to check on that kid,” he said.

Nance said that it has been hard to educate children on making jokes about situations like this.

“In today’s society and with all that is going on in the world, you can’t use those types of words,” he said. “Because people take those words at face value. We take this very seriously, if there is even a hint of a threat of any kind, we investigate it to the fullest extent.”

The other schools in Lawrence County were notified of the threat at Ironton High School.

Nance said the schools were never in lockdown and it was such a short duration of time between the time they were notified and the time the student was taken into custody that they never went into lockdown, which would have lead to notifications being sent to parents.

“Once we had the student in control and custody, that removed any threat. So we came off heightened alert within 15 minutes of the situation,” he said. “We have a phone notification system. If that person not been located, a message would have gone out and we would have been on lockdown. If we had felt there was an imminent threat, we would have gone on lockdown.”