Two 12-year-olds charged in threats at South Brunswick Middle School

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By Lindsay Kriz

A 12-year-old South Brunswick Middle School student who said he was going to bring a gun to school and shoot people Tuesday has been suspended and charged with making a false report concerning mass violence on educational property. 

“Students alerted school staff and the school resource officer (Ken Medlin) took the student into custody where he admitted to saying it. There is no believed danger to students,” Brunswick County Schools spokesman Daniel Seamans said in a news release issued early Tuesday afternoon.

Another 12-year-old student was charged with making a false report Friday morning at the school after more officers were assigned to all county schools while rumored threats were investigated in the wake of Wednesday’s mass shooting at a Florida high school.

That student told sixth-graders at 7:30 a.m. Friday he heard there would be a shooting that day, Seamans said. Students immediately told their teacher, who contacted the administration and Medlin took the student into custody.

Seamans said the student has been suspended and charged with making a false report concerning mass violence on educational property.

 “Students showed exactly what to do if they see or hear anything of concern by immediately telling a school staff member,” Seamans said in a news release. “Again, there is no believed danger to students.”

Brunswick County Sheriff John Ingram held a news conference Thursday in Leland to discuss unsubstantiated rumors about threats at North Brunswick High and Leland Middle schools after the shooting at a Parkland, Fla., high school that killed 17 people.

Ingram said specific threats were made in September against at specific student at Leland Middle and posted to the student’s Instagram account including “a date, names and students.”

Three students, all minors, were charged and have since been convicted, Ingram said. They also were suspended indefinitely from the district and banned from all county school grounds.

He did not say what schools the three attended, but said weapons were taken from them.

In an unrelated incident Feb. 7 a man, whom Ingram did not name, came to Leland Middle to pick up a child but was not authorized to do so. While the school’s resource officer, Arnold Floyd, ran a background check on the man to see if he had any warrants, the man tried to leave and the school was placed on lockdown.

The background check showed nonviolent charges pending against the man, who was taken into custody.

Afterward, a Leland Middle student who was familiar with September’s threats “expressed concern that the events were related. They were not,” Ingram said.

But rumors spread and the same Instagram post from September began to circulate on social media again.

Parents concerned about rumor contacted the sheriff’s office Feb. 13, Ingram said.

At the same time, security increased at North Brunswick High because of an unrelated domestic incident.

Since then, the sheriff said 20 students from both Leland Middle and North Brunswick High have been interviewed and any threat rumors are unsubstantiated.

The sheriff’s office is investigating a message that was discovered written on the wall of one of the boys’ bathrooms at the high school. It reads, “Have a nice day on the 21 on this month cuz (sic) there will be no more school after this!!!!”

“Things like this are what cause an investigation and cause us to mobilize our resources,” Ingram said Thursday. “And in regard to this particular note, it’s being investigated and thus far we have not been able to determine thus far who wrote it. Something as simple as a note like this we take very seriously.

“I want to remind everybody our mission and partnership (with the district) is to keep our schools as safe as possible, and one key element in that is having the community to assist us in providing feedback and information in order to get to the bottom of these rumors, or maybe valid information in order to take appropriate action. We encourage the community to help us in our mission.”

Law enforcement presence has been increased at all district schools as needed, Ingram said.

Superintendent Les Tubb said he, school resource officers, faculty and other officers are always in communication with one another regarding safety. He said social media is closely monitored for any potential rumors of threats.

“Safety is the No. 1 priority in school,” he said at the news conference.

The Washington Post’s John Woodrow Cox and Steven Rich noted five of Everytown for Gun Safety’s reported 18 school shootings for 2018 happened during school hours and resulted in physical injury, while three others appeared to be intentional shootings in which no one was injured.

Everytown for Gun Safety, a nonprofit, defines a school shooting as “any time a firearm discharges a live round inside a school building or on a school campus or grounds.”

The Gun Violence Archive describes a mass shooting as one in which four or more people are shot or killed in the same general time and location. It said Wednesday’s school shooting marked the country’s 30th this year.