SPALDING COUNTY, Ga. — A sixth grader is behind the multiple social media threats made against the Spalding Co. school system over the last few weeks, according to Spalding Co. officials.
The Spalding Co. Sheriff's Office said a sixth grader from Rehoboth Road Middle School has been charged with 12 counts of terroristic threats and acts and eight counts of disorderly conduct. The identity of the student is being withheld since he is a juvenile.
These charges are specifically in connection with the bomb threats that were made to Rehoboth Road Middle School and Spalding High School on March 12, 2019 on Instagram and again to Spalding High School, Griffin High School, Rehoboth Road Middle School, Kennedy Road Middle School, Cowan Road Middle School, and Griffin Christian Academy on March 18, 2019, according to officials.
Captain Dwayne Jones with the Spalding Co. Sheriff's Office said the student was using a cellphone and Rehoboth's school WIFI to log on to Instagram and make the threats. Jones said that's what made it so difficult to catch the culprit.
The student hijacked another students Instagram page, changed the password (so the owner of the Instagram account could no longer access it) and used that as a means to threaten different schools across the county and select students.
The student whose account was hijacked told authorities that he does know the student, but didn't know how the student took control of his account. Jones said law enforcement was able to eliminate that student as the culprit when they took his phone and threats were still being made.
Officials said the student also made it look like he was receiving threats by including his Instagram account in the thread of details. All in effort to appear as a victim, officers said.
The student facing charges lives with his grandmother, who told authorities that she wasn't aware that her grandson had a cell phone -- let alone social media. She has been completely cooperative with all officials involved, they said. Investigators also said the parents are not to blame "due to their current status in the child's life."
The student has been suspended from the school system, Jones said and has a tribunal hearing and juvenile court hearing pending.
"This student’s life is the perfect storm for bad behavior to manifest itself. He will be held accountable but will also receive other forms of help," Jones said in the press release.
Jones said Griffin-Spalding County School System and the Spalding County Sheriff’s Office have a zero-tolerance stance when it comes to the investigation and prosecution of anyone that makes threats against schools, students and staff members.