COVINGTON, Ga. — A 14-year-old was taken into custody today in connection with terroristic threats made against students and staff at Eastside High School on Tuesday, Dec. 14, a spokesperson said.
The boy, who an Atlanta TV news station identified as a Newton County student, was charged with one count each of Disrupting Public School and Terroristic Threats and Acts, both felonies, said spokesperson Caitlin Jett of the Newton County Sheriff's Office.
Local law enforcement agencies increased their presence at the school Wednesday, Dec. 15, in response to the threat, said Newton County School System spokesperson Sherri Partee.
School administrators were made aware Tuesday, Dec. 14, of the social media post "that was a cause for concern," Partee said.
A reader sent The Covington News an image of a social media post that included a photo of a handgun and a warning not to go to Eastside High School Wednesday.
He said he forwarded the post to Eastside Principal Jeff Cher and told Cher students were sharing the post on phones throughout the school.
Jett said, "Sheriff Ezell Brown and the Newton County Sheriff’s Office take every terroristic threat made against students and staff of the Newton County School System very seriously."
"Unfortunately, this is today’s world, and the Sheriff’s Office will make every effort to ensure the safety of all students and staff."
She said Brown "urges all parents to speak to their children about the dangers of making these types of threats before a situation arises."
School officials nationwide have become more attuned to threats in recent years after shootings on school grounds increased as firearms became more prevalent in society.
A total of 31 shootings on school properties, including 23 since Aug. 1, have been reported this year and 89 school shootings since 2018 in the U.S., according to the publication Education Week.
A 15-year-old student is accused of using a semi-automatic handgun to shoot and kill four fellow students and injure seven at a high school near Detroit, Michigan, Nov. 30.
His parents were charged with involuntary manslaughter after they were accused of giving the teen a semi-automatic handgun as an early Christmas present and then ignoring signs he was planning the shooting.