SEVIERVILLE, Tenn. — East Tennessee authorities said school safety is a top priority as students return to the classroom.
And already, they've arrested and/or cited at least four people for threatening violence on school grounds this academic year. Two of those people were juveniles; the other two were 18-year-olds.
In Sevierville, police said a juvenile was arrested and charged on Aug. 31 after detectives learned about a possible threat of violence on social media towards Sevier County High School.
RELATED: SPD: Juvenile charged with threatening violence toward Sevier County High School on social media
"Today's society is not the place to make a threat — especially jokingly —regarding school violence, or violence to other students, friends, family," Detective Sergeant Graham Brantley of the Sevierville Police Department said. "We investigate all the threats that come in to ensure that our schools are safe."
Brantley said the threats came from text messages in previous years, but authorities are now keeping a close eye on social media too.
The Grainger County Sheriff's Office charged 18-year-old Logan Daniels of Hamblen County with threatening mass violence at a school or school activity after records show they confirmed a video existed of him "threatening to shoot a student and also shoot up Grainger High School."
That charge is a Class A Misdemeanor under a law passed during the 2021 legislative session.
"We used to have to look at options just as basic as harassment or assault," Brantley said. "Recently, a law was passed that allows us to act a little more vigilantly against it."
Alcoa Police said they cited a juvenile for making a prank phone to the front office of Alcoa Middle School "threatening bodily harm to three staff members."
In Knox County, the sheriff's office arrested a former student — 18-year-old Aidan Eldridge — for bringing a rifle onto school property at a Christian Academy of Knoxville football game.
"If they make threats and then continue to act like they're going to follow through with it, it's going to be much more serious and they're going to have a harder time to deal with that moving forward," Brantley said.