Choctaw County Deputies Dispel School Shooting Rumors, Blast Parents

CHOCTAW COUNTY, Miss. (PRESS RELEASE) – Below is the full press release from Chief Deputy Lee Upchurch regarding yesterday’s social media scare surrounding Choctaw County Schools.

Press Release:

On Friday, February 16, 2018 at approximately 3:17 p.m. the Sheriff’s Department received a call from a concerned mother about a male juvenile who had a bag at school and had threatened a shooting at Choctaw County High School. Deputies from this department along with Chief Stark and SRO Fancher immediately began investigating the incident. The investigation found the listed allegations: student had weapons at school, duffel bag weighted 40lbs, student made a comment of “Pow Pow Pow what I have is for your body”, and student stated he was going to start a shooting at the school. After interviewing numerous students that evening we began to see the facts surface. Facts: student never had a weapon of any kind, student had clothing in his duffel bag because he was spending the night with a friend, student never made the comment of “Pow Pow Pow what I have is for your body” and at no time did the student threaten a shooting at the school. The finding thus shows that the student is new to the community and just started school in January. Furthermore, he is constantly being bullied and verbally abused at school by other students. With the exception of one student, all who were pulled in for questioning were part of the bullying. The investigation continued into Tuesday, February 20, 2018. That Tuesday morning an Investigator and the SRO were at the school when the buses arrived. Once the student arrived on campus, he was escorted to the office where he could meet with the acting Principal in the presence of law enforcement personnel. After a brief discussion between the principal and the student he was allowed to attend class. A detailed report from this agency was released to the school. The report listed the names of the students who were questioned, as well as, the names of the students who were bullying and fabricating the shooting story. Due to lack of awareness and speculation, the list was unjustifiably turned into the “shooters hit list”.

The misinterpreted facts of those not involved in the investigation caused panic and alarm at the school; therefore, we were back to square one with the wide spread belief of an active shooter on campus.

Staff was flooded with phone calls, parents were arriving on campus with firearms, and law enforcement were flooded with concern calls.

Through investigative measures we found that students were in fact spreading false rumors on campus that circulated into the community. Individuals then began utilizing social media where juveniles’ FULL NAMES were placed on their platform. Some of these juveniles had nothing to do with the incident and some were supposedly on the nonexistent “shooters hit list”. These are adults doing this.

I’m ashamed of the community’s lack of trust in the educational department and law enforcement. I’m furthermore concerned with the damage that was done to the student being bullied and OUTCASTED by students and residents due to false allegations.

When someone doesn’t know the facts and takes it upon themselves to establish their own opinions people get hurt.

Choctaw County Sheriff’s Department

Chief Deputy Lee A. Upchurch

Categories: Featured, Local News

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