MILLINGTON, TN (abc24.com) – Facebook death threats are no laughing matter. Millington High School students and faculty found that out the hard way on Monday, November 14, 2011.
Just hours after police say he posted a kill list online, former Millington student Jamal Smith was arrested.
Police were tipped off by one of Smith’s Facebook friends.
Among many disturbing things appearing on Smith’s Facebook wall was the post: “I think I’ll shoot up the school just to take the pain away.”
What pain? abc24.com asked an expert with 20 years of clinical psychiatric experience to read the posts.
“The main thing is the hate.”
That was Mary Beth Wingfield’s initial reaction after reading Smith’s Facebook posts—threatening students and faculty and Millington High School.
One of those entries read: “This is a warning. I got a kill list of all I will target; very sorry Facebook, but these people must die.”
During a lockdown of the high school that lasted more than two hours, David Robbins texted with his girlfriend’s daughter inside the school.
“There’s a guy at the school with a gun,” Robbins read from one of the texts, “he’s threatening to kill Kenton, Hannah, Coach Phillip, me and two guys that graduated last year.”
“They are telling the students the lockdown is precautionary, we’ll see.” said Michelle Sanders, whose daughter was a student inside.
Fortunately the lockdown was precautionary. Smith was not inside the school and was arrested by police just before one p.m., he had no guns or ammunition as he had posted online.
“I don’t know what explanation he’ll give,” said Mike Tebbe , a spokesperson for Shelby County Schools, “but that’s immaterial. You just do not do that. A lot of people view Facebook as a toy, a game; but this is serious.”
Smith did post about losing his mother two weeks prior after a long battle with cancer. That could have triggered the incident.
“He already feels like nobody cares about him,” Wingfield told abc24.com, “and without his mother, he stated in one place he felt hopeless. When people are hopeless they do desperate things.”
Those inside the school were feeling desperate themselves.
“I was scared,” said 14-year-old student Keundra Sanders, “I thought somebody was going to come in and kill me.”
Even though everybody was okay, moving forward, this incident could cause problems for students.
“They might have sleep disturbances, nightmares or be afraid of going to school.” Wingfield observed.
But in the present, those who run the schools were upset.
“Regardless of his intent we view this seriously,” said Tebbe, “it is disruptive in nature. Even if someone says they were kidding, we are serious. This shouldn’t have happened.”
After his arrest, police say Jamal Smith did admit to making hi threatening Facebook posts. He was charged with: “communicating a threat concerning a school employee.”
That charge is a misdemeanor.
19-year-old Jamal Smith is a recent graduate of Millington High School. The investigation is ongoing.