15-year-old charged after threat to 'shoot up the school' made at Marion County's Jasper Middle School

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A 15 -year-old student was arrested Friday at Jasper Middle School in Marion County, Tennessee, after a threat was made to "shoot up the school," according to authorities there.

According to a statement issued Friday by Marion County Sheriff Ronnie "Bo" Burnett, authorities launched an investigation after students, school officials and parents warned them of a threat.

An eighth grader allegedly made the comments to other students, and the information was relayed through school administrators and concerned parents, who contacted law enforcement, Burnett's statement reads. The sheriff called the information "alarming."

Marion County school resource officers, Criminal Investigation Division officers and Jasper police joined in the investigation, he said.

"As you could see, a strong police presence was visible at Jasper Middle School this morning as students began to arrive for class," Burnett said of the response at the school Friday.

The student was taken into custody based on the evidence gathered and transported to Marion County Juvenile Justice Facility, Burnett said.

Officers then cleared the school, declared there was no longer an immediate threat and the school was released to administrators and classes resumed, Burnett said.

photo Marion County Sheriff Ronnie "Bo" Burnett

Marion County Director of Schools Mark Griffith said he was informed Thursday night by Marion County Detective Doug Henderson that the threat had been made, but officials only had a description of the student and no name.

"Unfortunately, we had to wait until this morning to identify the student," Griffith said Friday.

Law enforcement, Griffith and school administrators were on hand at the school Friday morning and were going through students' book bags and other belongings as they came into the school.

Griffith said a student who reportedly overheard the threat was pulled aside, and authorities were able to learn the suspected student's name.

That student was detained for "investigative purposes" and arrested after giving a statement allegedly admitting to making the threats, Griffith said.

The student was not armed when searched at the school Friday, Griffith said.

Griffith said the school system's disciplinary hearing committee was already meeting Friday on another issue and the new incident was presented to them for review.

"That will come across my desk on Monday and I'll be to review their recommendation," he said. "I can either uphold the recommendation or modify it."

Meanwhile, Burnett thanked students and parents who came forward with information.

"When a situation such as this occurs, we will always make sure that it is handled with every law enforcement resource that we have at our disposal," Burnett said. "The safety of the students and faculty are our No. 1 priority."

Contact Ben Benton at bbenton@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6569. Follow him on Twitter @BenBenton or at www.facebook.com/benbenton1.