Zambia Geiger kept her son home from school Monday after learning of a racially charged threat a Bryan County High School student had posted online.
Schools Superintendent Paul Brooksher confirmed that school-system and law-enforcement officials became aware Friday morning that “a student had posted on a social media site a threat to bring a weapon to school and harm other students.” The situation was “handled quickly,” and the student was expelled, he said.
However, the online post regained traction over the weekend. Geiger said her son, a junior at BCHS, told her about it Sunday night.
According to her son, an online conversation a BCHS student had with friends “turned into, they had guns and they were going to kill all the N-words and all the N-word lovers,” she said.
The Bryan County News has not been able to independently verify that any social-media post had that specific wording. A screen shot provided by the Georgia NAACP showed someone suggesting he would “pop a cap in a (N-word), show them I don’t play,” but it does not specifically reference Bryan County High School.
Brooksher confirmed the student’s post was “racially charged” and “very inflammatory.” However, a law-enforcement investigation determined “there was no credible threat at Bryan County High School,” he said.
“If the school system feels there’s a safety concern or threat, we would notify parents immediately,” Brooksher said. “But it was an isolated incident and it was handled immediately.”
Brooksher confirmed that the student behind the inflammatory post is “no longer at Bryan County High School.” He did not elaborate, citing student confidentiality.
Meanwhile, the local rumor mill began to buzz. By Monday, Brooksher said, the rumor on campus had escalated to three guns having been found at BCHS and three people having been arrested.
“If we had three guns at our high school, we’d be on CNN,” Brooksher said.
Pembroke Police Chief Randy Alexander said that “absolutely no arrests were made, and no weapons were found.” The Pembroke Police Department and Bryan County Sheriff’s Office have a mutual-aid agreement to provide security for Bryan County High School.
“We went through all the vehicles looking for weapons and didn’t find any,” Alexander said. “Everything is fine. The incident did happen on Friday. The guy was expelled, and it’s done with.”
Nonetheless, Geiger feels school officials should have made parents aware of the threat. She said she emailed BCHS Principal Crystal Morales on Sunday night with her concerns and was told she “could feel free to sit in the classroom.”
“That didn’t address the issue,” Geiger said. “If someone brings a gun to school and starts shooting and I’m in the classroom, they’re going to kill me, too.”
Her son returned to school on Tuesday. The main reason, Geiger said, was because the school registered his absence Monday as unexcused.
“I found out they weren’t going to let the students who – quote – skipped make up their work,” Geiger said. “My son takes AP (Advanced Placement) classes.”
In a news release issued Monday, the Georgia NAACP also questioned the response by school officials and law enforcement to the threat.
“Racism and xenophobia have no place in modern society,” said Francys Johnson, the state NAACP president and a Statesboro attorney.
Brooksher encourages parents to contact their child’s school or the school-system central office if they have any concerns about safety. He said he met with several parents on Monday and “it went well.”
He also urges parents to monitor students’ social-media activity and reach out to school officials immediately if they have a concern.
“It is unfortunate that social-media outlets provide a platform for students, and even adults, to say and do things they generally would not do face-to-face,” Brooksher said. “It is extraordinarily sad when the bad behaviors and poor decisions of one on social media disrupts the learning environment for every other student.”