Student expelled after his alleged graduation shooting threat

Saturday, October 21, 2017

On October 18, the Blytheville Board of Education met in special session for an expulsion hearing involving a Blytheville High School student.

The hearing was closed to the public at the request of the student’s father.

Six of the eight board members were present and voted 5-1 to expel the student. Board members Tommy Bennett, Jr., Desmond Hammett, Tracey Ritchey, Tobey Johnson and Henrietta Watt voted for the expulsion. Barbara Wells was the only member to vote against the expulsion.

On October 11, the 14-year-old Blytheville High School student was arrested and charged as a juvenile for allegedly “making a terrorist threat.” The alleged threat was recorded in a Facebook video where the student allegedly threatened to “shoot up this year’s graduation.”

According to Blytheville Chief of Police Ross Thompson, BPD officers received information from Blytheville School District personnel, “that a student had made a threat towards the school. Reporting officers received a Facebook live video recording where the student made several comments about shooting up this year’s graduation. School officials also referred to an earlier incident on campus where the same student caused a disruption then began yelling ‘school shooter’.”

Thompson also said that according to Arkansas Law (under Arkansas Statue 5-54-203) defines “making a terrorist threat” as when a person “with the purpose to intimidate or coerce a civilian population or to influence the policy of a government or a unit of government by intimidation or coercion, the person in any manner knowingly threatens to commit or causes to be committed a terrorist act and thereby causes a reasonable expectation or fear of the imminent commission of a terrorist act or of another terrorist act.”

Thompson also stressed, “Incidents such as these are taken seriously. If you see something say something. It doesn’t matter if the offender intended to carry out the threats or not it is still a crime. The Blytheville Police Department thanks the school officials for working with us and handling it in a professional manner.”

gwilliams@blythevillecourier.com