OKOLONA – Chickasaw County Sheriff Jimmy Meyers said Saturday morning four juveniles – defined as persons under age 16 – were taken into custody Friday evening, Aug. 16, following receipt of a message earlier that day that threatened a school shooting at Okolona.
The four will face charges in Youth Court, the sheriff said. He declined to provide other information about the four, citing juvenile confidentiality requirements.
Oxford and Pontotoc authorities took two other juveniles into custody earlier last week in connection with threats made against schools in Lee County, Oxford, Pontotoc, and Tupelo, according to published reports.
The threat against the Okolona schools never materialized, and schools were dismissed without incident at the usual time of about 2 p.m. Friday, the sheriff and Okolona Superintendent Chad Spence said Friday afternoon.
Chickasaw deputies and Okolona police were called to Okolona High School about noon Friday following receipt of the message.
Said Okolona Superintendent Chad Spence: “We notified Okolona police, and both the elementary and high schools went to a soft lockdown, where the outside doors were locked, and personnel could travel between buildings.
“Officers and deputies checked the buildings, perimeters, and surrounding areas as a precautionary procedure to make sure everyone was safe and sound. Meanwhile, the schools continued to have class. It stayed that way from about 12:15 p.m. to about 1:15 p.m. before the lockdown was lifted.” The two buildings are less than a mile apart.
Said Sheriff Meyers: “As we understand it, a student received a text message threatening the shooting. That student forwarded the text to a parent, the parent called the school and we were notified.
Meanwhile, the matter has spread via Facebook.
Asked if the threat was credible, Sheriff Meyers replied: “We take every threat seriously. The recent threats made against schools in Lee County, Okolona, Oxford, Pontotoc, and Tupelo are probably related. “
Efforts to reach Okolona police for comment weren’t successful.
“We’re just glad everyone was safe,” the superintendent said.
Concluded Sheriff Meyers: “We wish people will tell their children these types of messages are far more than just a prank. They can have serious, serious consequences.”