Five more students arrested after threat, morning rumble

Published 11:57 am Thursday, April 14, 2011

A fight among students at the Grove Street School this morning resulted in the arrests of four juveniles, Vicksburg police Lt. Bobby Stewart said.

Reports were that a 15-year-old girl was injured in the fight and was bleeding in several places, but it was not clear if she required medical treatment.

Information was incomplete this morning, Stewart said, and Vicksburg Warren School District Superintendent Dr. Elizabeth Duran Swinford could not be reached.

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The fight, which broke out around 8:15 a.m., followed juvenile arrests on weapons and threat charges Tuesday and Wednesday at separate schools.

A junior high school girl was arrested Tuesday for taking a steak knife to school in response to online threats, and a 15-year-old Warren Central High School boy was arrested Wednesday for making e-mail and text message threats, Stewart said.

The boy was picked up at school by sheriff’s deputies around 8:30 a.m. and turned over to city police because it is a city case, said Sheriff Martin Pace. Warren Central High School on Mississippi 27 is outside city limits and deputies have jurisdiction there.

“This time of year there’s always more discipline issues,” said Charles “Bubba” Hanks, the district’s discipline officer and a former longtime principal and teacher. “Facebook, e-mail and cell phones have really become a problem — it’s so easy for kids to communicate things now.”

The boy was not involved in making the threats that resulted in the Warren Central Junior High School girl’s being charged Tuesday with having a weapon on school grounds, Stewart said.

A complaint had been filed about two weeks ago that the boy had made the electronic threats to an individual, said Stewart.

“You can’t do it and they need to know that,” Stewart said regarding students making threats online or through electronic devices. “It’s against the law.”

The boy was taken to the juvenile detention center for a hearing in Youth Court, the lieutenant said. The charge is being pursued as a felony, said Stewart.

Swinford said Wednesday afternoon that school officials facilitated the deputies’ serving the warrant and picking up the boy.

“To my knowledge, it didn’t take place at school,” Swinford said of the case. “We did not initiate the call.”

School authorities, however, had called police Tuesday when the 15-year-old junior high school girl was found with an 8-inch steak knife in her possession during a search just before 9 a.m.

The girl was arrested and turned over to county juvenile officials for a hearing in Youth Court.

Swinford said an anonymous tip had provided enough information to launch an investigation and search of the backpacks, lockers and personal items of seven to 12 girls from both Warren Central and Vicksburg junior high schools who were named by the caller.

Just the one girl was found with a weapon, and she told authorities she was afraid because of threats she had received on Facebook, an online social networking site, and felt she needed to protect herself, Stewart said.

Swinford said Wednesday that district officials appreciate parents’ being vigilant about what their children are taking to school, which Hanks echoed.

“We need parents to be involved, we need their help,” he said. “And it helps, too, if kids have someone at school that they trust and can talk to.”

The four students arrested this morning were being held at the Vicksburg Police Department.