After a Statesboro High School administrator found a loaded gun on campus late in the school day Thursday, the gun was secured and Statesboro police made an arrest.
It was another, but not necessarily related, incident at the 1,600-student high school, Bulloch County’s largest, where a fight just one week earlier led to 13 student arrests.
A tip from an adult led to the discovery of the weapon inside a backpack that had been placed in a classroom’s metal file cabinet, Hayley Greene, public relations director for the Bulloch County Schools district, reported in a release Thursday afternoon. She indicated that a suspect was in custody.
The school system does not name students as suspects in crimes. But a Bulloch County Jail booking report received Friday listed Kylan Dmar Nuekirk, 17, as having been booked Thursday by Statesboro police on a charge of carrying a weapon in a school safety zone, at a school function or on school property and a misdemeanor, first-offense charge of possession of a pistol or revolver by a person under 18 years of age. In Georgia, the age of majority for criminal charges is 17, but a state law prohibits someone under 18 from owning or controlling a handgun, with exceptions for hunting, fishing, competitions and instruction.
Thursday’s school district press release emphasized that officials had responded to the discovery of the loaded gun, that nobody was hurt and that Statesboro High would continue normal operations Friday.
“The school’s resource officer, additional law enforcement from the Bulloch County Sheriff’s Office and Statesboro Police Department, the school district’s safety director and the superintendent of schools all responded to both contain the situation and provide additional support as the school district implemented heightened safety precautions during the school’s regular student dismissal time,” Greene had written.
Oct. 7 fight
Thursday’s incident came one week after a fight among students on the Statesboro High campus Oct. 7 that led to the arrest of 13 students. At this point, neither police nor school officials have indicated any connection between the two incidents.
“As far as any linkage in the cases we can’t confirm or deny it,” Statesboro Police Deputy Chief Rob Bryan said Friday. “We are obviously investigating all of the cases that have happened at Statesboro High and working with the high school to ensure the safety of the students. But until there’s any completion to the investigation, we’re obviously not going to comment on the ongoing investigation, especially until we know something for sure.”
But he did provide some additional facts about the Oct. 7 fight, which occurred among students on the Statesboro High campus bus not inside the school buildings.
Police believe a total of 13 students were involved, and all 13 were arrested, according to Bryan. Those arrested included nine juveniles, 16 years old or younger, and four students age 17 or older. The juveniles would not be included in arrest reports.
But all 13 were charged with disrupting a school, Bryan said. At least three 17-year-olds charged with both affray and disrupting a public school have appeared in jail booking reports, routinely published in the Statesboro Herald, in the week since Oct. 7.
Some other young adults appeared in the jail reports as charged with affray during the past week, but the newspaper was unable to determine which of these were connected with the school.
“There were other incidents during the week, independent of the one that occurred on Oct. 7,” Bryan said.
Whether related or not, both the fight and the gun at school were on the minds of parents attending Thursday evening’s Bulloch County Board of Education meeting. Some spoke during the time allotted for public comments, including a former elementary school principal who asked what had become of a zero-tolerance policy for fighting.
In his own remarks, Superintendent of Schools Charles Wilson said that more disruptive behaviors have been seen in the schools as everyone has struggled for a return to normal from the COVID-19 pandemic against repeated setbacks.
He defended the school system’s adoption of a Multi-Tiered System of Supports, a stepped approach to counseling and discipline meant to show students what is expected of them at school and not overreact. But he also said that students who seriously threaten the safety of others bypass those steps and will be removed from the schools.
“We are not going to tolerate disruptions to the safe and orderly learning environment,” Wilson said. “Consequences for those actions that do so will be administered through our disciplinary and our hearing process. … Those actions will speak for themselves.”
He noted that due process has to occur.
“If we’re going to provide that balanced approach through our MTSS, Multi-Tiered System of Supports, for success for our students, those who are not willing to respect the safe and orderly environment for others are not going to find that they have options inside of our school district,” Wilson said.
The school system would be working with law enforcement on some immediate efforts to heighten security, he said, but added that he would not reveal specifics. After classes ended Friday, Greene reported that it had been a normal school day throughout the district, with no further incidents. But she confirmed that more law enforcement officers had been present at Statesboro High and that searches were conducted.
“To protect the effectiveness of heightened measures we don't provide full details on what those safety measures are,” she emailed. “However, I can confirm that additional law enforcement was present at the school, and thorough searches of the school and all students were conducted.”
Greene said the school system encourages students and adults to report crime tips or suspicious activity to a school administrator, a trusted adult, or contact law enforcement.
• Bulloch County Sheriff’s Office: 912.764.1771 or email@example.com
• Statesboro Police Department: Text TIPSSPD plus your message to 274637 (CRIMES) or report at tip online at statesboropd.com .
• Bulloch County Schools Safety Department 912.212.8891 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Statesboro Herald editor and operations manager Jim Healy also contributed to this report.