North Augusta student threatens to "Virginia Tech this school"

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April 19, 2007

NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C.---A North Augusta Middle School teenager made a deadly threat on school grounds today.

During a fight, the 14-year-old boy told teachers and classmates how he would react if he got expelled, saying he was going to "Virginia Tech this school."

The threatening remarks were not taken lightly. Police were immediately called before the teen could make good on his words.

"If it reaches the threshold of violating the law, somebody's going to jail," said North Augusta Public Safety Chief Lee Wetherington.

The 14-year-old sent the threatening message and a picture of himself holding a rifle to another student through his cell phone. That student told school officials, who alerted the police.

"It was another student that turned him in," Chief Wetherington said. "Once he saw the pictures, he took it seriously also."

Chief Wetherington says he has good reason to believe that the 14-year-old may have acted on the threat, and he was not willing to take the chance.

"Because of the disposition he had when we talked with him, we're taking the threat seriously," Chief Wetherington said. "This is not a funny matter, this is not a laughing matter, it's not a joking matter. When you make these kind of utterance, the police are going to look into it."

The student was arrested and taken to the Department of Juvenile Justice in Columbia. Chief Wetherington believes that this type of "copycat" activity, or threats to do so, should not be ignored. And making such comments, whether serious or not, will land you in jail:

"Certainly insensitive comments, comments in today's climate and today's environment, given what's happened this week, you need to stay away from," he said.

"We're all taking it serious, and we're going to look into it...and if you've stepped over the line and violated the law, you're going to suffer the consequences."

The chief commended the school for reacting so quickly and notifying them. They say that if they had waited it might have been too late.

The student has been charged with disturbing a school and making terroristic threats.

He is being questioned by counselors in the Department of Juvenile Justice, with more charges possible.

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