Two South Cumberland Elementary School sixth-graders accused in April of plotting to carrying out a school shooting have been remanded to the custody of the Department of Children’s Services for an undetermined amount of time.
Juvenile Court Judge Larry Warner was limited on what he could order for the two, who have been in held in a state facility in Sevierville for 100 days. That represents the amount of time they were taken into custody.
Warner has held a series of hearings on the pair who were charged in a juvenile petition with conspiracy to commit first-degree murder of fellow students and faculty. Because they were charged with conspiracy, the judge could not order their incarceration until they reached the age of 19, sources told the Chronicle.
On July 31, Warner cleared the courtroom of all but attorneys involved, and reports indicate he gave a lengthy and strongly worded lecture to the two. One is represented by attorney Kevin Bryant of Crossville and the other by Howard Upchurch of Pikeville.
Warner on Thursday ordered the two be transferred from the state facility to custody of DCS. Ongoing counseling and related treatment will continue for the youths, and it will be up to DCS as to when the pair will be allowed to return to their families.
The attorneys, courtroom staff and families members were the only persons allowed in that hearing.
At the time the two were taken into custody, District Attorney Bryant Dunaway said, “We felt it appropriate to charge the students that we know were involved at this point because of the seriousness of the situation to make sure everyone was safe and there was not chance it (school shooting) would take place.”
A lengthy investigation by the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office did not find anyone else was involved in the conspiracy.
South School Resource Officer Anthony Loshbough first learned of the plot from students who told him about a “hit list” rumor. He notified the new city/county law enforcement threat assessment task force. That group launched an immediate investigation.
Investigators found a hand-drawn map of the school and a plan to hide guns in a locker room. The two are alleged to have planned on the last day of school to enter the building through a rear door, retrieve the weapons and carry out the shooting. Investigators also learned of multiple discussions between the two students during the planning of the incident.
After carrying out the shooting, the two reportedly planned to commit suicide before police arrived on the scene.
However, investigators searching the homes of the two students found no weapons.
All schools in Cumberland County have resource officers who are trained to develop a trusting relationship with students. This relationship resulted in Loshbough receiving a tip that the two might be planning the school shooting.