‘All hands on deck’: Schools examine security in light of threats

Following a weekend of threats against Knox County Public Schools, Barbourville Police Department Chief Winston Tye has one thing to say: “Every threat will be taken seriously. It’s all hands on deck. If we have to call in every guy we have, we’re going to take every threat, no matter how small, seriously.”

Chief Tye’s department assisted Kentucky State Police in the arrest of three students just hours after being notified of threats circulating on social media on Sunday, Feb. 18.

According to KSP Public Affairs Officer Shane Jacobs, a 13-year-old Knox County Middle School female student and a 16-year-old Knox County Learning Academy female student were arrested and charged with second-degree terroristic threatening after allegedly coming up with the idea to send out a social media threat in hopes of school being cancelled.

Both juveniles were taken to the Barbourville Police Department for questioning and then sent to Breathitt County Juvenile Detention Center after being appointed a Knox County Court Designated Worker.

Megan Scott, 19, of Corbin, who attends Knox Central High School, was also arrested for her alleged involvement. According to Jacobs, Scott was aware of the threats and failed to notify authorities. Scott is charged with complicity to terroristic threatening and was lodged in the Knox County Detention Center.

The Barbourville Police Department was first made aware of the situation around 2 p.m. after a citizen stopped Officer Adam Townsley in town to show him the threats circulating on social media. One of the anonymous threats told Knox County to be ready for a “30 kill streak and more,” which would happen “soon and if you cancel school [I’ll] wait till there is school.” Revenge was the stated motive.

BPD immediately contacted KSP and initiated a joint investigation, according to Chief Tye. The Electronic Crimes Branch obtained an address where the threat was made, which led to the arrests.

In light of the threats, KCPS remained adamant that school safety is a top priority for them and, mirroring Chief Tye’s comments, will not take any threats lightly.

“We will not tolerate threats, whether it be on social media, or verbal in school or in the community against our district,” said Frank Shelton, KCPS Director of Communication and System Governance. “We are encouraging families to talk to their children, be aware of the warning signs, and help us end this disruption of student learning. Also, children should be comfortable coming to an adult, whether it is a family member, law enforcement, or a teacher, and telling about any potential violence that they hear of in our schools.”

Along with Knox, similar threats against school systems in Kentucky have been received, including in Clay, Whitley, Laurel and Jessamine counties.

Knox County Sheriff  Mike Smith assisted at the scene.