Monroe Area High School students filed past police officers Monday as they returned to class after intersession.
Monroe police officers were at the school in force after a threat made during the break. Students were restricted to entering through one of two doors, and those doors were guarded by officers and administrators.
Police reported no disturbances as the students returned.
The security was a response to a threat last week from a 16-year-old male MAHS student who worked at Chick-fil-A, Walton County Sheriff Joe Chapman said. The juvenile, who is not being identified by law enforcement or school officials, allegedly told co-workers of his desire to kill a large number of people. Chapman said he did not name specific victims he wanted to kill, nor did he make a specific threat against any school.
Still, Chapman’s officers found his threats credible enough, and any threat carries that credibility today, to take him into custody. Chapman said the juvenile had access to firearms.
“Regardless of what the schools decide to do, we will take anyone who makes any sort of threat, we will take a juvenile into custody,” the sheriff said. “Their parents really need to start paying attention.”
Chapman said the Walton County Juvenile Court will determine the teen’s fate.
The school system sent a text and email blast over the weekend, advising students and their parents of the increased security they could expect Monday.
“We want to communicate clearly with parents and students,” MAHS Principal Bryan Hicks said as the first students began arriving Monday.
Hicks stood in front of the main doors with Monroe Police Chief Keith Glass, Assistant Chief R.V. Watts and several uniformed officers. Other officers were stationed around the school’s perimeter with more inside the building. Glass would not reveal the total number of officers present Monday, but he said it was enough to ensure the school’s safety.
He also said there were additional officers at George Walton Academy on Monday.
Hicks said the officers were there to be seen, but he said the visual impact wasn’t the only reason.
“It isn’t just for show, they are here to keep us safe,” he said.
Glass said any threat has to be taken seriously.
“Any time you have any kind of intelligence, you have to be sure,” he said.
By the time the tardy bell rang to start Monday’s school day at Monroe Area, the stream of students had turned to a trickle with no incidents reported.
Administrators and officers said they had hoped for quiet start when students returned from their break.