Brighton Middle School was evacuated again Wednesday after the school received its second bomb threat of the school year.
Students were returned to the classroom after district officials and law enforcement searched the campus and found no evidence of a bomb.
The same scene played out two weeks ago, during the first week of school.
“After the building was cleared, students returned to campus to resume classes. Law enforcement and Homeland Security traced the call, which originated in Europe, was obviously app-generated, and has been responsible for multiple swatting calls across the country since early 2023.
“As always, we appreciate the support of our families and will continue to work diligently to maintain a safe learning environment for our students and staff. Also, thank you to law enforcement who managed this potential crisis with professionalism and concern.”
There has been a growing trend of reporting bombs and shootings at schools using social media. In April, a 16-year-old was charged with threatening mass violence at Covington High School.
Director of Schools Dr. John Combs addressed the trend during a school board meeting on Aug. 9.
“We’re just going to have to keep vigilant. We have a new juvenile officer that we’re going to speak with every time we find out who does these pranks … We don’t take these things lightly,” he said. “As a matter of fact, I’ve even tried to talk to our attorneys about how we can go on the offensive with some of these folks.”
Combs said the Aug. 9 bomb threat also involved the threat of a mass shooting.
“They said there’s a bomb in the middle school and you need to get out. And then they also said, if your students are outside too long, then we’ll start shooting. That’s what it said. So obviously we got all the kids out of Brighton Middle School, took them down the hill, put them at Brighton High School. They were locked up in there.”
On Aug. 9, Combs said it’s frustrating because it would be a continuing issue. Less than two weeks later it happened again.
“The more they’re able to get to the apps that they have now and the [artificial intelligence] technology and those kind of things, this is going to continue to be a thing. So we just have to be vigilant. We have to encourage our community and our parents and everyone else to pay attention to what their kids are doing.”
Additionally, he wants people to advocate for changes in legislation.
“We have to continue work with the state and work with law enforcement to get some things passed where we can do more to find out how to stop these things, because they’re really difficult.
“… It’s going to continue to be a problem. So we’re going to have to figure out how to address it. I would encourage you when you go to your [Tennessee School Board Association] meetings, etc., that these are some things that you bring up because Tipton County is not the only ones experienced this issue. As a matter of fact, when we looked up, there have been multiple this same number has made multiple calls across the country since the beginning of 2023. It’s going to be a continual battle to deal with these, so we need to keep up with that and make sure anything we can do to help that situation. And honestly, I don’t know what that is; I don’t work in law enforcement, I don’t know.”
One of the criticisms he has received has been a delay in notifying parents, but Combs said the safety of students is his top priority.
“We’re just here to do whatever we can whenever the call comes in and do it as quickly as we can.
“We got notification out for parents just as soon as we could. We did a couple of call outs, actually, but keep this in mind, too. I know somebody said, ‘Why do we know sooner?’ Well, I’m getting the kids out of the building first, right. I’m not going to stop and draft a statement. We’re going to get them out of the building and get them safe, and then we’ll draft a statement. And it was pretty quick today, but that’s just how it’s going to work, and it will continue to work. My main priority is the kids, and then we’re going to get them out and get them safe, and then we’ll work on the rest of it.”