NEWPORT, Tenn. (WATE) – The Cocke County Sheriff’s Office has charged a 14-year-old boy after they say he made a “kill list” and threatened to shoot or kill students at his school.
Sheriff Armando Fontes says a concerned parent contacted the sheriff’s office around 8:30 p.m. Thursday. The parent said her daughter, who attends Edgemont Elementary, was aware of a student who had a “kill list” and was planning to shoot specific students at school.
The officer contacted the principal and then began investigating. The student was identified as a 14-year-old eighth grader at Edgemont and officers went to his home.
When asked if he had a “kill list,” the teen went into the house and retrieved the list of his own free will. Fontes says the boy’s parents were cooperative and it was determined there was a .40 caliber handgun in the home that the teen had access to.
The teen said he had been bullied at school over the last year. Fontes says the teen said he was angry but had no intention of killing anyone – he just wanted to scare them.
“I wouldn’t expect him to react that way. I would’ve expected him to tell a teacher,” said Alex Romines, a student at Edgemont Elementary School and friend of the charged student.
Romines says the 14-year-old told him about the bullying. He says their peers would verbally and physically bully the student.
“It all just happened all of a sudden. He’s a good kid once you get to know him,” said Romines.
Fontes says several students at Edgemont were interviewed and there were bullying issues with the student, but they were never reported to the principal or school staff.
The teen was charged with disorderly conduct and harassment.
Fontes says the child was disgruntled, had motive to commit a shooting and had access to a gun. While he did not follow through with injuring anyone, he did intentionally create legitimate fear, he said.
Investigators determined the suspect did make threats to kill or shoot students at Edgemont, but no one reported the threats to faculty.
Still, parents with children in Cocke County schools used social media to share their concerns. Many called the events “too close to home.”
One parent with two children who graduated from Edgemont says her daughter was bullied during her time there and was disappointed to see a student choosing violence as a solution.
“I went through the same things with my daughter. For three years in a row. She was outgoing but got bullied and it all changed. She became a loner and that carried into high school with her,” said Angie Ray.
The child was brought before a judge on Friday and ordered to stay off Cocke County school property and begin home schooling. The teen is on house arrest.
Officers were at the school Friday to make sure everyone was safe.
“Parents please teach your children to take all threats seriously and to report them to a faculty member immediately,” said Fontes. “Parents please express to your children the importance of treating others with respect and to not partake in any type of bullying even if it is a joke. It is vital that all gun owners keep their weapons secured in a strong locked container not accessible to their children. This situation had all of the elements which could have resulted in a school shooting.”