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Girl charged for threat against Camden High School

Posted: February 22, 2018 4:16 p.m.
Updated: February 23, 2018 1:00 a.m.
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An 11-year-old girl, identified by Camden Police Department (CPD) Chief Joe Floyd as a 6th Grade student, is facing a disturbing schools charge in connection to a threat posted Monday morning through Snapchat against Camden High School (CHS).

The Kershaw County School District (KCSD) declined to identify at which school the girl attends.

“We don’t want to interfere with the Camden Police Department’s investigation,” KCSD Director of Communications Mary Anne Byrd said Wednesday.

Although he also would not name the school, but contradicting Byrd’s statement, Floyd said publication of the name of the girl’s school would “not interfere with our moving this matter through family court.”

According to a CPD incident report, CHS Principal Dan Matthews contacted the school’s resource officer (SRO) around 8:45 a.m. Monday saying he had a female student in his office who said she had received a threat on the school on her Snapchat account. The SRO spoke to the young woman who said she received a message from someone identifying themselves as “NSIMPSON518,” but did not know the person’s actual identity. The student did say they thought another student might be able to help.

The SRO then contacted CPD headquarters and, within minutes, a number of officers arrived at the high school, including patrol units and investigators.

Floyd said investigators managed to identify a small group of CHS students who received the message and spoke to them.

“One of the students who had received the message said they had previously received a picture of that user,” Floyd said.

That student shared the picture with CPD investigators who then transmitted it to other law enforcement agencies, including the Kershaw County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO).

“We had the girl’s picture, but didn’t have her name,” Floyd said. “A (KCSO) SRO showed it to a school employee who identified her. It was certainly a team effort between the police department, sheriff’s office and school district.”

Floyd said investigators interviewed the 11-year-old girl with her parents present.

“After the interview, we were able to conclude that she was the person who sent the message,” Floyd said.

Although he declined to speak directly about the girl’s motivations, Floyd said she appeared surprised by the response.

“During the investigators’ conversations with her, it was apparent that she was surprised by how it got out beyond the small circle of people she had sent the message to. She’s young enough not to know how all that stuff works,” he said, referring to law enforcement’s involvement and the charge she faces.

Floyd said the young girl will be petitioned to family court, as well as face whatever disciplinary action the district may take.

Byrd said disturbing schools is what the district considers a Level 3 -- the most severe -- infraction a student can commit. That means the girl will automatically have a hearing at the district level before a hearing officer. Level 1 and 2 offenses can be handled at the school level, Byrd said. She also said hearing officers make determinations as to whether students violate policies and, on a case-by-case basis, determine a penalty, up to and including expulsion.

Floyd said even though it was determined that the 11-year-old girl’s threat was not a credible one, Monday’s incident was felt throughout the county.

“It tied up a huge amount of resources and affected all the schools across the county,” he said.

As investigators did their work, Floyd, Matthews, CPD Capt. Lee Boan and KCSD Superintendent Dr. Frank Morgan all met in Matthews’ office at CHS.

“We went over our resources and determined we needed to get information out fast,” Floyd said. “It was a real coordination of effort. Our primary concern was making sure there was no incident at the school and our second was getting parents informed.”

Floyd said he believes that strategy paid off.

“There were a lot of anxious parents. Our understanding is that, on average, between 35 and 40 (CHS) students leave school for things like doctor’s appointments. That day, and this is a ballpark, we understand about 240 students left school, so that means parents took about 200 students home. But, that also means there were 800 students who stayed because parents felt comfortable with the information we put out,” Floyd said.

Byrd confirmed that more than 200 students were taken out of CHS by their parents on Monday. She also said more than 60 students were taken out of Camden Middle School after the threat was made, but that number also included students who left campus for medical appointments and other reasons.

“Some families who signed out students from Camden High also signed out their siblings from Camden Middle,” Byrd said.

Floyd said CHS might have actually been the safest place for students Monday.

“We had seven or eight officers on campus until the situation was resolved,” he said. “It was the last place a shooter would want to come to.”

By 3 p.m., Floyd said, Matthews was able to inform students and staff during his dismissal announcements that a young girl had been identified as the person who sent the threat and that she was being dealt with.

Byrd said the district appreciated the CPD’s cooperation and quick response.

“I think that’s why they were able to solve this the same day,” she said. “We can’t thank them enough.”

 

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