published Wednesday, September 18th, 2013

Jasper, Tenn., student accused of Facebook threat transferred

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    A Marion County eighth-grader's "threatening" Facebook post, provided by the Marion County Sheriff's Office.

A Jasper Middle School eighth-grader accused of threatening his school in a Facebook post was charged Monday with making terroristic threats and has been transferred to another school system.

Marion County, Tenn., Director of Schools Mark Griffith and law enforcement officials credited fast cooperation among law enforcement and the school system in defusing a "threat" posted on Facebook involving the student.

Authorities said the boy appeared in a Marion County Juvenile Court hearing on the charges Monday. On Tuesday, Juvenile Court officials said Judge Mark Raines issued a gag order after that hearing and no more information will be released.

The threat posted on the student's Facebook page was forwarded to Griffith by an adult on Friday. He then sent the post to Sheriff Ronnie "Bo" Burnett and Jasper Police Chief Tim Graham, Griffith said.

Griffith said he wanted to inform authorities because there was a Friday night football game at Marion County High School, and he wanted to make sure nothing happened.

"There was some disturbing language in there about possibly killing an individual, and there was a racial slur in there," he said.

There were no incidents at the game.

But about 2 a.m. Monday, dispatchers contacted Griffith about calls from concerned residents -- likely parents of students at the middle school -- about another post "that regarded bringing a weapon to school," Griffith said.

He said parents who knew about the post were alarmed and officers got in touch with the eighth-grader's grandmother, with whom he lived, and told her to bring the boy to school.

Police secured all doors at the school so the only way in or out was through the front entrance, and the boy was taken into custody as soon as he got there.

Griffith said school officials are looking into an incident last week that might have led to the eighth-grader's post. School administrators said the boy had no major discipline problems until this school year, he said.

The boy will attend another school in another Tennessee system where a family member lives, Griffith said. He didn't identify the school district.

Burnett and Graham said the boy didn't have a weapon on him or at his grandmother's home when it was searched later.

Contact staff writer Ben Benton at bbenton@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6569.

about Ben Benton...

Ben Benton is a news reporter at the Chattanooga Times Free Press. He covers Southeast Tennessee and previously covered North Georgia education. Ben has worked at the Times Free Press since November 2005, first covering Bledsoe and Sequatchie counties and later adding Marion, Grundy and other counties in the northern and western edges of the region to his coverage. He was born and raised in Cleveland, Tenn., a graduate of Bradley Central High School. Benton ...

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