DEWEYVILLE - By Scott Lawrence/KFDM News
The Newton County Sheriff's Office has placed a 12-year-old student in juvenile detention while deputies and the Deweyville ISD investigate a 'hit list' consisting of three or four names written in invisible ink on a piece of paper.
The superintendent, Kevin Mathis, and Newton County Sheriff Eddie Shannon, tell KFDM News that although there's no indication the student intended to harm anyone, they have to take the potential threat seriously given what's happened at schools across the country.
The list was discovered Monday at the 7-12 grade high school campus in Deweyville.
"Yes, there was a hit list," said superintendent Kevin Mathis. "I believe the kid was possibly kidding as he stated, but we enforce school policies at full force, as well as the student code of conduct. That's no different than if someone were to bring a BB gun to school. We treat it as a real gun. There's no, 'Oh, I was just kidding.'"
Mathis wouldn't describe the student's age or grade other than to say he's a younger student.
"It had about three or four names written with invisible ink on a piece of paper with the heading 'hit list,'" said Mathis. "You had to shine a light on it to see the names. The kid told other kids."
Mathis said there's no indication the child was mad at the students whose names he put on the list, nor that he even knew them.
"Other students reported it to campus administrators," said Mathis. "They investigated and confirmed the existence of the list. They contacted us. It happened late in the day, around dismissal time. The parents of the child were notified. The student isn't at school at this time. We'll determine his punishment. There's no indication he intended to harm anyone but the district taken extra precautions to ensure the safety of students and staff."
Newton County Sheriff Eddie Shannon told KFDM News his office began investigating Monday afternoon.
Shannon and a deputy went to the school to investigate.
"We took over late in the day Monday," said Shannon. "We took statements from the principal. Once we got the information we went to the kid's house, notified his family and picked him up. His family followed us to the Newton County juvenile processing center where he gave a statement. We called juvenile authorities and they placed him in custody and detained him at the Minnie Rogers Juvenile Justice Center in Jefferson County."
Shannon said the student confessed to writing the hit list.
Shannon said authorities will file charges against the student for making a terroristic threat. He says the district has suspended the student.
Shannon told KFDM News he will provide extra patrols to ensure the safety of students.
He told us one of his deputies spends a lot of time at the high school each day, walking around, visiting with students, eating lunch, to make sure students know they can talk with him and express any problems or concerns they might have. He says it's important to be proactive.