Cleveland police charge 9-year-old with making threats of violence toward six schools

Staff File Photo / Cleveland High School was one of those that received threats from a 9-year-old boy, leading to his arrest.

Police in Cleveland, Tennessee, have charged a 9-year-old with making violent threats Wednesday night by email to Cleveland City Schools, leading to the closure of all city schools Thursday.

"These threats that specifically named six city schools were emailed to a top administrator of Cleveland High School," Cleveland Police Department spokesperson Evie West said in an email. "The administrator perceived these emails as threatening in nature."

Investigators were able to identify the source and origin of the message, West said, which led to a 9-year-old boy, a Cleveland City Schools student, as the person responsible. No viable threats were found, and investigators "are confident" the child did not have the means to carry out an act of violence. First thought to be two schools, police later determined six schools received the emails, West said.

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The 9-year-old is charged with making threats of mass violence on school property and harassment, West said.

"This investigation is still active and, as more information becomes available, could result in additional charges," West said.

Cleveland City Schools will resume regular classes Friday, according to a statement from the district issued after the arrest.

"We want to express our sincere gratitude to the diligent investigators from the Cleveland Police Department who swiftly identified the student responsible for these emails and determined them to be not credible," officials said in the statement.

School safety and security come first, District Director Russell Dyer said.

"The safety and security of our students and staff remain paramount," Dyer said in the statement. "We appreciate the commitment of the Cleveland Police Department to ensuring the well-being of our community."

Officials urge parents and guardians to have conversations with their children about the severe consequences associated with such online behavior.

"Our school counselors will be available to speak with any students tomorrow who would like to do so concerning this event," school officials said.

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Police were joined in the investigation by the FBI, Tennessee Department of Homeland Security, Bradley County Sheriff's Office and Bradley County schools, West said. No Bradley schools were specifically named in the threats.

"Our school resource officers provide a high level of security at our schools daily, and we will continue to do so to provide the best level of safety for staff, students and property," West said. "Cleveland Police Department patrol officers, along with several specialized units, including investigators, had a heavy presence on every city and county school campus within our jurisdiction. We will continue to evaluate the situation to ensure that we consider the safety of all school districts and our students, which is our highest priority."

Information on the content of the emails was not released.

Contact Ben Benton at or 423-757-6569.