Education

Lexington police investigate 2 student threats, bullet found on elementary school bus

Lexington 1 schools continue to deal with student threats and safety concerns, including reports of a bullet found on a bus, a middle school student assaulting an adult, and another student threatening a teacher.

Last week’s issues started on Wednesday, Sept. 25, when a district bus driver discovered a bullet on a bus that had just finished the morning drop-off at Lexington Elementary School.

The bullet was given to police, who entered it into evidence to be destroyed, according to an incident report written by Lexington Police Department.

“Video from the bus was watched but there was no evidence that could be seen on the video to tie the bullet to a student who was on the bus that morning,” Lexington Police spokesperson Cpl. Cameron Mortenson said in an email.

On Sept. 27, a 12-year-old student at Lexington Middle School allegedly assaulted a teacher at the school and threatened to kill her and another teacher, according to a police report and Mortenson.

The person who reported the incident — who is not identified in the report, but is a teacher, according to Mortenson — told the school’s resource officer that a student hit her arm when she told him to get off of a “wall climber.”

The student ran out of the building and returned to class, but left his ID behind, she told police. The complainant went to the boy’s classroom to give him his ID, and the student’s “face features changed and then he said, ‘I am going to kill you,’” according to the report.

The teacher told school administrators and the school resource officer, Terrence Darby.

After the teacher left the classroom, the report said the student “became angry to the point the other students were removed.” A different teacher remained in the room, and the student yelled, “’YOU! I’ll chop your head off with a machete!”

The second teacher the student allegedly threatened told police that he had made another threat against her in the same week.

Both of the women told police that “they didn’t think” the student would kill them, but that they “felt concerned for their safety,” according to the report. Both teachers declined to press charges on the day of the incident, Mortenson said.

However, on Oct. 1, one of the teachers changed her mind and asked that charges be filed and the case was sent to the Department of Juvenile Justice, Mortenson said.

The student was disciplined by school administrators, though Lexington 1 did not immediately clarify what disciplinary actions were taken.

Also on Sept. 27, a 16-year-old student at Lexington 1’s Alternative Education Services — created to help students at risking of being expelled — sent two threatening emails to a teacher.

The first email told the teacher that she was “pissing him off and to stop,” the Lexington Police Department report said. The student also said “his feelings were being hurt and that makes him want to hurt himself again,” according to the report.

The student had been transferred to the alternative school because he had sent an email “that made threats toward the staff of his previous school,” the report said, though it did not say which school the student previously attended. The student is not being named by police or by The State because he is a minor.

On the same day as the first email, the student sent a second email to the teacher that said “after he put ‘10 shots’ in his brain,” the teacher would “celebrate with the class,” the report said.

The teacher saw both of the emails the following day, according to police, and told the principal, who notified two school counselors. The counselors called the student’s mother at that time.

On Sept. 30, the student sent another email to the teacher, telling her that “her ‘energy was on overdrive’ and that it had been pushing him” to want to die by suicide, the report said. The student was taken to the counselors’ office, where a counselor conducted a test to assess if he was at risk to kill himself. She determined that the student “was not in immediate need for intervention,” according to the report, but the student remained in the office, doing work on his laptop.

While he was in the counselor’s office, the student sent an email to two of the counselors about his teacher, the report said. He wrote that he was dreaming about gunning down” the teacher “in cold blood at point blank range,” adding that his homicidal thoughts are “normal to me as I do that with everyone else that does me wrong,’” the report said.

The counselors forwarded the student’s email to the principal, who called an officer to the scene. The student did not have any weapons on him, the report said, but the student again reiterated to the officer that he “does think about killing people that have done him wrong,” including his teacher, and that “his preference is shooting them with a gun.”

The student and his mother told police that he does not have access to a gun, the report said. And, the student told police, “it is unlikely that he would kill someone else” and that he would kill himself instead. The student said he “knew what would happen when he sent that email” to the counselors, according to the police report, and he “wanted help before he did something he would regret.”

Related: Where to get help in the Midlands if you or someone you know is struggling with mental health issues

The student’s mother was called to the school, where the police officer told her that her son was being charged with making threats. The student made a written statement, his mother completed a form promising to bring him back to his court appearance, and both left the school, the report said.

The Lexington Police Department said the case was forwarded to the Department of Juvenile Justice for prosecution.

“The protocol for a juvenile making threats of hurting someone else or themselves is to pass that information on [to] a parent or guardian and they then make the decision of taking them to the hospital for further evaluation or take their child home,” Mortenson said in an email.

If a parent or guardian could not or did not respond to the school, then that decision would be for emergency medical personnel to make, he said.

The three incidents are not related. A Lexington District 1 spokesperson said Thursday afternoon she did not have additional information but would look into the incidents. More information about how Lexington 1 handles student safety concerns is on the district’s website.

Student threats to Lexington County schools have occurred frequently since before the start of this school year. Of the numerous threats that have been made public, most involve students who are minors and who attend public schools.

Isabella Cueto is a bilingual multimedia journalist covering Lexington County, one of the fastest-growing areas of South Carolina. She previously worked as a reporter for the Medill Justice Project and WLRN, South Florida’s NPR station. She is a graduate of the University of Miami, where she studied journalism and theatre arts.
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