Juveniles charged in incident resulting in school lockdown
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A Cairo High School student and a Washington Middle School student have been charged with disruption of a school by Cairo Police in connection with a threat to Cairo High School posted to social media that resulted in the school going on lockdown Tuesday, May 7.
Law enforcement are now on the trail of a third individual who called in multiple threats to CHS on Monday of this week, May 13.
At approximately 12:55 p.m. Monday a threatening call was made to the high school. A receptionist at the school who took the call, made note of the phone number from which the call originated through caller ID. As the receptionist relayed the message to School Resource Officer Duke Donaldson, a second call came in and it was recognized as being from the same number. Officer Donaldson answered the call this time and according to Cairo Police Chief Keith Sandefur, the caller threatened that he was on his way to the school and was going to blow it up.
Chief Sandefur said law enforcement did not interpret the threat to involve any explosives, but rather that the individual was planning to possibly open fire on the school with a firearm.
Donaldson immediately notified the city police and the school went on lockdown for the remainder of the day. On the recommendation of law enforcement, after-school activities were canceled.
“The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is assisting us in tracking down the caller. We are in the process of subpoenaing phone records and anticipate making an arrest shortly. This is painstaking work, but we are hopeful a suspect will be identified and charged,” Chief Sandefur said.
With law enforcement providing additional security, students were dismissed Monday at the normal time, which did not affect school dismissal at the county’s other schools as it did during last week’s incident.
“We do not believe this incident is related to the threats made last week, but we are not prepared to rule it out either,” Chief Sandefur said Tuesday.
Grady County School Superintendent Dr. Kermit Gilliard told members of the Grady County Board of Education Tuesday night that based on the sound of the voice of the caller, officials believe the caller was an adult.
Grady County Police Department Chief Redell Walton told board members that officials had checked with nine different carriers so far and had not been able to track down the caller.
“How are we dealing with the mental stress our students and staff have suffered as a result of these threats?” Board member John White asked Tuesday night.
Superintendent Gilliard said that mental health counselors are in the schools and psychiatrists available if needed. He said the high school administration had conducted after-action plans to determine how the school can respond to such instances in a better manner. “We’ve got some things we have to work on,” Dr. Gilliard said.
“I would like to thank the Cairo City Police Chief Keith Sandefur and his officers, Sheriff Harry Young and his officers, and the Grady County School System’s officers for their help in this matter. At Cairo High School we take any threat against our school very seriously. Student safety has been and will remain our first priority. Parents and students we appreciate your understanding in this situation and we are sorry for any inconvenience this might have caused,” Cairo High School principal Chris Lokey said.
Dr. Gilliard echoed his thanks to local law enforcement and reminded everyone that those who make threats and disrupt school will be severely punished.
“This is no joking matter,” the superintendent said.