SOMERVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - A Brewer High School student is arrested, charged with making a terrorist threat. The Morgan County Sheriff's Department says 18-year-old Brandon Smithson left a message on a bathroom wall saying he was bringing a gun to school. Deputies arrested the senior late Wednesday night.
Smithson had already passed his exit exams and was slated to graduate in May, but the Morgan County School Superintendent says a disciplinary hearnig will determine if he graduates at all.
Other students, who found the message around 2 PM Wednesday afternoon, alerted school leaders who notified the Morgan County Sheriff's Department and the school resource officer. Several teachers and students were interviewed during the brief investigation. Smithson was arrested at his grandmother's home by deputies around 11 PM Wednesday night.
Brewer High School was under a modified lockdown Thursday as a precaution.
"This is not a game. This is not entertainment for us. Any type of a threat, any type of action like this, we're going to take very seriously," says the school's principal, Jeremy Childers. He says it doesn't matter if it was a gag, a stunt, a joke, or even a cry for help. He says the language indicated a threat and that was how the incident had to be treated, with the safety of all students and faculty in mind. "To take no action is to take the wrong action," Childers said.
Smithson was taken into custody late Wednesday night without incident. Investigators tell us no weapons were found in conjunction with his arrest. The charge, making a terrorist threat, is a Class C felony. He's being held under a $25,000 bond.
Smithson, a senior, had passed his exit exams and was slated to graduate with his class this Spring. But Morgan County School Superintendent Bill Hopkins says a discliplinary hearing will determine his future with the school system.
"All options are available to him," Hopkins told WHNT News 19. "Basically, what we will do, we will evaluate after the law enforcement gives us their information. We will look at certain factors such as was there true intent. Also, what is best for him? You would not want to put him back into the local school setting where obviously he could be bullied, there could be issues and those things. His education is a concern too, along with the others," Hopkins said.
For now, though, Smithson is facing a criminal charge instead of graduation. The message he left on a bathroom wall has been wiped away, along with so much more. And he has that to think about while he sits in the Morgan County Jail.
-- Al Whitaker