A 14-year-old and an 18-year-old have been charged with one count each of felony terroristic threats after allegedly threatening to commit school shootings at Rome Middle and Rome High through social media over the past two days.
According to a Rome Police Department news release:
The 14-year-old was charged Thursday after he made a threatening social media post. He posted a photo to Instagram of himself holding a firearm while threatening to commit a shooting at Rome Middle.
Information concerning the post was passed on to the school resource officer who began an investigation that ultimately led to a charge being filed. His name was not released and it was not confirmed if he was a Rome Middle student.
"No further information will be released on this incident due to the offender's age," the release stated.
On Friday morning, around 7:30 a.m., Rome police had been on the campus of Rome High investigating "alleged threats of violence made via social media." An other threat was disclosed by a student, who reported receiving a Snapchat post about a "second potential threat" at the high school.
Members of the criminal investigation division found information indicating the "threatening post" originated from Joseph Quadarius Kinnebrew, of 792 John Davenport Drive. According to a warrant for his arrest, "the threats made were of a planned school shooting at 1:19 p.m."
Rome Assistant Chief Debbie Burnett said police confirmed the school has a bell that rings right at 1:19 p.m. to change classes.
Kinnebrew told police he meant it as a joke, Burnett said. However, that is not a joke and police had to take criminal action, she continued.
Kinnebrew was arrested and was in Floyd County Jail without bond Friday night.
In both cases, police were able to find the suspects behind the threatening messages before any potential violent action took place at the school campuses — both at 1000 Veterans Memorial Highway.
"No weapons were found on either school campus. No shots were fired. No persons were injured," the release stated.
Also on Friday morning, Floyd County police had an increased police presence around Pepperell middle and high schools, Maj. Jeff Jones said. There had been rumors about an alleged threat at the two schools Thursday night that started after the arrest of a 17-yearold Rockmart High student, he continued.
Zoriah Erin McCrae was arrested Thursday on two counts of terroristic threats and acts after a police investigation concluded she had sent a Snapchat message threatening violence at Cedartown and Rockmart high schools.
Jones said there were no direct threats against Pepperell schools.
"Nonetheless we're gonna have to act on it," he said of any possible threats.
Candidates for local and statewide seats will qualify next week for the May 22 party primaries and nonpartisan elections.
Three Floyd County Commission seats and two on the county school board will be on the local ballot, along with the Juvenile Court judgeship.
Terms are also ending for all Georgia General Assembly representatives and senators, as well as the governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, secretary of state, state school superintendent and the commissioners of agriculture, insurance and labor.
The nonpartisan Floyd County Superior Court seats held by Chief Judge Tami Colston and Judge Billy Sparks will be decided in May. Candidates will qualify at the State Capitol along with the candidates for statewide office.
Colston is not seeking re-election. Sparks, who was appointed to the position to fill a vacancy, plans to run for his first full four-year term.
The Juvenile Court seat also is nonpartisan. Judge Greg Price and any challengers will qualify with the Floyd County Elections Office, 12 E. Fourth Ave.
The qualifying period runs 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday and until noon on Friday.
Candidates in the partisan races will qualify with their parties and the winners of the primaries will advance to the Nov. 6 general election ballot.
Locally, Republicans will sign up at the law office of David Guldenschuh, 512 E. First St. in Rome.
All five County Commission and Board of Education incumbents are Republicans and Guldenschuh said he expects them to come as a group Monday morning.
Democrats running for local seats will qualify at the Salter Law Firm, 242 N. Fifth Ave.
Amy Mendes, a vice chair with the Floyd County Democratic Party, said she expects the party to put up challengers.
The qualifying fee is 3 percent of the annual salary set for the position.
School board members earn $4,800, which puts the fee at $144. County Commission seats pay $7,200, so the fee is $216. The full-time Juvenile Court position has a salary of $124,090.59 and a qualifying fee of $3,722.72.
Today's artwork is by Piper Phillips, a fourth-grader at Pepperell Elementary School.
"Shave his head, shave his head, shave his head," Model Elementary School students chanted in the gym Friday afternoon, as Assistant Principal Kyle Abernathy had a hair clipper run across the top of his head.
With students raising over $1,000 for the Pennies for Patients fundraiser to benefit the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Abernathy had to stick by his promise to have his head shaved. After initially sitting in a chair in front of students, he had tried to escape to the hallway and kids yelled for him to be tracked down and brought back.
Once back in the chair, kindergarten teacher April Casey, who used to cut hair professionally, went to work, making something like a tree clearing for power lines on the center of Abernathy's head. She continued on and shaved his head completely, but students still wanted more, calling out "shave his beard." But he was able to keep the beard.
It was the second year of the school participating in the fundraiser — $2,177 was raised last year. The competition was made a tad bit more interesting this year. Four large buckets were designated for the four houses — Nia, Ari, Kenji or Pilar, each have their own seal — students are part of.
Abernathy's house is Nia, so his promise was connected to them raising the most. And they sure did. So students in the house, from kindergarten to fifth grade, were able to battle it out against staff in a volleyball game.
The fundraiser is also a show of support for one of the Model community's own in 2015 graduate Michael Adams. He was diagnosed at the end of his junior year in May 2014 with leukemia and has been battling it for almost four years.
"I'm doing a little better," Adams said while watching the volleyball game, adding that he is currently dealing with avascular necrosis — a condition resulting in the death of bone tissue from a lack of blood supply — in a shoulder and knee. He is currently attending Georgia Highlands College with a focus on computer science.
His mom, Karen Adams, is the PE teacher at the school and she directed the volleyball game. Principal Aimee Hays told kids following Abernathy's head shaving of Michael Adams' story and why their fundraiser is important.
"Everything always gets better," he told the students, adding that someday he hopes that no kid has to go through what he has.
A Lawrenceville man, Anu Tafari Campbell, was sentenced to 10 years on two counts of aggravated sexual battery, to be served concurrently in prison, followed by life on probation Friday. Campbell entered negotiated pleas to both counts stemming from assaults that occurred on the Berry College campus where he was a freshman soccer player two years ago.
"I don't know if I can adequately express how sorry I am to all involved," said Floyd Superior Court Judge Jack Niedrach prior to imposing the sentence. "I will note, Mr. Campbell, that this sentence could have been exponentially worse."
Plea negotiations prior to sentencing Friday involved a decision by District Attorney Leigh Patterson and Assistant DA Emily Johnson agreeing to deviate from the mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years in prison.
"The college experience and life of these two young ladies was changed forever," Patterson said after Campbell was led from the courtroom.
Larry Nolting, director of the Georgia Recovery Centers in Marietta, testified during the sentencing hearing that since Campbell was granted bond and placed under house arrest, he had undergone more than 400 hours of counseling and attended more than 300 Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.
Campbell told Judge Niedrach that the very first drink he had ever taken came at the end of his first week at Berry.
"I thought drinking and partying on campus would help me fit in," Campbell said. He said that his attendance at AA meetings had taught him that he was "powerless over alcohol."
Campbell's attorney Bernard Brody said Campbell has been enrolled at Gwinnett Tech and has maintained a perfect 4.0 GPA.
"He did accept responsibility right away," Brody told the judge. "Prison would clearly disrupt the path he's on right now."
Brody said being put on the sex offender registry for the rest of his life was punishment enough.
Campbell addressed the court and one of the two victims who was in court and said, "I am deeply sorry for the pain and discomfort I've caused you and your families."
A.D.A. Johnson read statements from both of the victims. One girl said, "Not a day goes by that I don't think of that night ... the truth is I'm still not over it." The second victim wrote, "I truly believe there would have been other victims." That same young woman also penned, "I do believe he's capable of change."
"To not give him significant prison time sends the wrong message," Johnson told Niedrach.