By LYDIA BERGLAR
On Tuesday, March 28, in the wake of the Nashville Covenant School shooting, a student at Dade Middle School stated that he was bringing a gun to school on Friday, March 31. School administrators and the Dade County Sheriff’s Office (DCSO) got involved immediately and determined that the threats were not credible.
The school sent a text message to all middle school parents regarding the situation, the school system sent out a press release, and DCSO shared its press release on Facebook, which read:
“On March 28th, a Dade County SRO (School Resource Officer) was notified by the Dade County Middle School Principal that a student stated he was going to bring a gun to school on Friday. Subsequently, other students heard this statement and began repeating it and telling students not to come to school on Friday.
“Sheriff Cross, along with his deputies, immediately went to the school to investigate.
“After deputies and school administration spoke with several different students who were involved, as well as other witnesses, it was determined that there was no threat to any students or staff, and the statements made were not credible.
“Due to this incident involving juveniles, no other information will be released.
“Sheriff Cross wants everyone to know that he and his deputies treat every incident like this very seriously, and the safety of the children and staff at Dade Schools is paramount to the Sheriff’s Office and the Dade County School System.”
DCSO further explained that there would be an increased law enforcement presence at all Dade schools. The office noted that discipline and consequences are school issues and could not be divulged by DCSO.
The school system’s press release further explained that the administrative team will “follow appropriate discipline protocols to ensure this situation is handled.”
A similar situation arose in Hamilton County that same day. The Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office posted a press release which read:
“Red Bank Middle School Student Arrested: On March 28, 2023 at approximately 10:15am, the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office School Resource Deputy (SRD) assigned to Red Bank Middle School was notified by school administrators of a possible school threat made by a student.
“Upon investigating the incident, the SRD collaborated witness statements and obtained probable cause to charge the juvenile suspect via juvenile petition with a Threat of Mass Violence on School Property, which is a Class A Misdemeanor.
“As this incident pertains to juveniles, no further details are available.”
Facebook user Tonya Mansapha shared the press release under the DCSO thread. Mansapha, along with other citizens, contemplated why no charges were pressed in the Dade County situation. The Sentinel reached out to DCSO to clarify that charges were not pressed because no true threat was determined.
Detective Chad Payne explained that to legally press charges, there must be specific threats to one or more persons or entities. He reported, “Sheriff Cross went to the school because he has absolutely zero tolerance for threats against schools or anything of that nature. If the elements of a crime are there, we will absolutely charge that individual regardless of his/her age, but if the elements aren’t there, we won’t make them up.”
He noted that Dade County Schools are also zero tolerance regarding threats to the safety of their communities and that DMS handled discipline appropriately.