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Covington Superintendent of Schools, Melinda Snead-Johnson (left) stands alongside Jeanne Miller, intermit Police Chief of Covington, as details of last week's incident at Covington High School was explained at a press conference held at city council chambers on Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2017. (Tammy Lipscomb photo)

Covington Police Release Statement On High School Incident

Covington, VA (Dec. 12, 2017) - The Covington, Virginia police department released the following statement dealing with an incident which occurred last week at the Covington High School.

"At approximately 10:00 PM on Thursday December 7th Covington City Schools Superintendent Melinda Snead-Johnson, and CHS Principal Derek Cantrell were advised of a threat made by a student via social media. The threat specifically targeted Covington High School and its students.

"In accordance with the schools Crisis Management Plan, the two contacted the suspected student’s guardians and requested that the student not attend school the following day.

"The following morning, Friday December 8th, School Resource Officer Crowder coordinated to have additional police personnel available in the school and began a follow up investigation. At no time was the individual suspected of making the threat present in the school that day. However, due to the nature in which we discovered the threat, some students and parents were already aware of the information and we believed additional personnel would assist in making everyone feel safer.

"As the morning wore on there were many discussions amongst teachers, students, administrators and law enforcement took place. At some point the suggestion of an additional threat was brought to our attention. The rumor included information that this second individual possessed a firearm in the school that day. The student suspected of making that threat was detained, and it was determined that there was no validity to the threat. There was also no firearm located on the individual or anywhere in the school.

"Due to the speed at which information travels via text and social media, a large number of students were being checked out of school by parents and the office staff was inundated with phone calls from parents. It was decided by the Superintendent Melinda-Snead Johnson, and Building Administrator Derek Cantrell to close Covington High School at 11:00AM that day.

"For the remainder of the day and again on Monday December 11th, Covington Division of Police Investigator Sergeant Roldan spear-headed the investigative effort in which he conducted multiple interviews, took statements, as well as performed research and review of social media.

"Also on Monday December 11th, school administrators along with the Covington Division of Police made scheduling accommodations, and added additional staff throughout the day to reassure students and parents that they were safe while in the building.

"As a result of the completed investigation, the student suspected of making the original threat was suspended from school, their conduct is still under review. They will face discipline within the school system as well as the Alleghany County Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court.

"The individual interviewed in regards to the second threat will face no discipline and will be allowed to return to school as soon as possible.

"At no time on Friday the 8th, or Monday the 11th was any student in danger from either of these threats. One of our top priorities is school safety. That is the reason for our School Resource Officer program, as well as regular training the Police Department and Schools conduct relating to these, and other types of critical incidents.

"We would like to thank those students and staff that brought the original threat to our attention. ”If you see something, say something”. This helped us respond quickly and effectively. Thank you to those students who came forward.

"We realize the fact that parents and citizens want to be informed and we should’ve done a better job with this. Due to the nature of the incident, the fact that there were juveniles involved, and because the investigation into multiple rumors to get to facts, takes time, our ability to share facts was limited. And because this is a time consuming process we could not release specific information until the investigation was complete.

"The Covington City School Board, the staff of Covington City Schools, and the Covington Division of Police believe that the safety of students and staff must be paramount at all times.

"We will be posting this statement on the Covington Police Department Facebook Page as well as the Covington City Schools website. Thank you for your time, cooperation, and understanding."

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