The Jenkins County schools in Millen were closed Tuesday and Wednesday and will now remain closed the rest of the week while law enforcement agencies continue an investigation into emailed threats reportedly received by staff and students.
A problem of this kind was first reported last week, on Thursday, Nov. 4. In a statement posted on the Jenkins County Elementary School and Jenkins County Middle-High School pages on Facebook that afternoon, Jenkins County Superintendent of Schools Tara Cooper stated that a few teachers and students at the middle school had received a message, apparently sent late the night before, demanding $5,000 “in a threatening manner.”
School officials met with law enforcement that day, Nov. 4, to assess the threat and then decided to put the school on lockdown. Noting the “threat was for a specific time,” Cooper reported that students had been allowed to leave school with parents but that “the time came and went” and the school day had continued.
She thanked the Millen Police Department and Jenkins County Sheriff’s Department for being “on hand immediately” that Thursday.
But an additional threat had been received by Monday evening, according to the following statement that Cooper posted then on the schools’ social media pages.
“Message from the Superintendent:
It is late, and for that I apologize. Our local law enforcement and the GBI have been working on finding the person sending the email threats to our staff and students – and are still working as I write.
In light of this ongoing investigation, and a new threat tonight, we will be cancelling school tomorrow. We want our staff and students safe, and we want our parents assured of their safety.
We will provide an update tomorrow, hopefully with a resolution.
However, Tuesday did not bring a resolution, and she issued another statement that evening, indicating that school would be closed again Wednesday and that the Sheriff’s Department and GBI had conducted interviews and were tracing phones and continuing the investigation.
Wednesday evening, Cooper reported that law enforcement teams had still been unable to identify the source of the emails but knew that multiple devices were used from the same IP address.
“This is disappointing,” Cooper stated, via Facebook.
“However, law enforcement will not stop collecting information that will lead to the culprit,” she wrote. At this point, we will remain closed through Friday. This decision provides more time for all of the law entities involved to work, but also provides time for us, here at (the Jenkins County School System), to work on a safety plan with additional equipment and safety measures in place.
“I sincerely hope that anyone in this community that has knowledge about this incident will report it to the authorities,” Cooper added, before promising to provide an update after officials meet again Friday afternoon.