Sixth-grade student arrested in connection with school bomb threats

STAFF REPORT :::

A sixth-grade student of Rehoboth Road Middle School has been charged in connection with recent online threats against local schools.

According to a press release issued by Sheriff Darrell Dix, the male student has been charged with 12 counts of terroristic threats and acts and eight counts of disorderly conduct for allegedly making bomb threats against Rehoboth Road Middle School and Spalding High School on March 12, and against Spalding High School, Griffin High School, Rehoboth Road Middle School, Kennedy Road Middle School, Cowan Road Middle School and Griffin Christian Academy on March 18.

Officials say the juvenile offender used a cellphone and accessed Instagram through the Rehoboth Road Middle School’s WIFI system to distribute the threats, and explained that when investigators attempted to track the IP address of the cellphone, it returned to the Rehoboth Road Middle School WIFI system since the student was using that means to access the internet and the Instagram account.

Investigators allege in order to make the threats to the schools and a selected group of individual students, the offender highjacked another student’s Instagram account and changed the password so that the original student could not access the account. He also included his own real Instagram account name in the thread where the threats were being generated so as he was sending the threats he was also receiving the threats under his real name to make it appear that he was also a victim.

The student whose account was highjacked was questioned and he and his cellphone were with school system and law enforcement officials when other posts were made using his screen name. He does know the student that was charged but does not know how his Instagram account was taken over. There is no indication he had any involvement in the threats, and he is also considered a victim.

The student that charged in these incidents is cared for by his grandmother and she has been completely cooperative with Rehoboth Road Middle School staff and Spalding County Sheriff’s Office investigators.

The Sheriff’s Office says it will be difficult to hold the grandmother accountable for the child’s actions or to seek restitution from her since she had no knowledge that her grandson had a phone and did not know he was accessing social media.

The charged student’s parents cannot be held accountable for restitution, either, due to their current status in the child’s life, officials said.

Authorities describe this student’s life “the perfect storm for bad behavior to manifest itself,” and say he will be held accountable while also receiving other forms of help.
The student has been suspended from the school system, and a tribunal is pending as well as a Juvenile Court hearing.

The Sheriff’s Office said the success of this ongoing investigation resulted from the cooperative efforts of the Griffin-Spalding County School System – specifically various school administrators and their staff members, the superintendent’s office and staff and the Spalding County Sheriff’s Office. Appreciation was also expressed for the assistance provided by the Griffin Police Department Crime Scene Unit.

“We believe that this incident once again shows that the Griffin-Spalding County School System and the Spalding County Sheriff’s Office have taken a zero-tolerance stance when it comes to the investigation and prosecution of anyone that makes threats involving our schools or threatens the safety of our students and staffs,” Dix said. “This incident, along with past incidents involving threats via social media should not reflect negatively on the overall safety of our GSCS schools. These incidents have been random acts by a limited number of individuals. They have been taken seriously, acted on immediately, and brought to a conclusion.”

 

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