TRUSSVILLE — The Trussville Police Department is investigating threats made at Hewitt-Trussville High School (HTHS) by a student who was allegedly inspired by the Netflix show "The Jeffery Dahmer Story."
According to Trussville Police Chief Eric Rush, a ninth-grade student said he was "going to be like Dahmer and kill everybody," ostensibly referring to Jeffery Dahmer, a serial killer who murdered 17 people from 1978 to1991. There has been a renewed interest in Dahmer since Netflix premiered a show detailing his life.
Police described the Trussville student as being 14 years old, in a special needs class but would not release his name. His classmates claimed they heard him make the threat three weeks ago. The student was suspended, but he has yet to be charged with any crime. The case is now being handled by the District Attorney's Office.
Trussville City Schools (TCS) Interim Superintendent Frank Costanzo sent parents an email describing the school system's response to the threat.
"The administrators and SRO initiated the threat assessment protocol," Costanzo stated in the email. "Administrators worked with our school resource officers to ensure student safety and assess the credibility of the threat."
This latest incident comes after controversy over a "death notebook" found at Hewitt-Trussville High School caused the principal of the high school, Tim Salem, and the superintendent of the school system, Pattie Neill, to be placed on leave while a private firm has been hired to investigate.
Costanzo was transparent about the actions taken following the most recent threat, and Rush said he was thankful for the cooperation of the school's leadership.
The Student Code of Conduct and threat assessment protocol were followed, no one was hurt, and classes were not disrupted, Costanzo added.
"Please be assured that the safety and security of our students, faculty and staff are our number one priority," he told parents.
Costanzo applauded the school resource officers (SROs). Rush said the recent incidents highlight how much SROs are needed in every school, and he hopes to add one more SRO team to TCS.
"We have seven right now, with two at the high school, two at the middle school and one at each elementary school," Rush said. "I would like to add a third one at the high school because they have 1,600 students, and it's needed. I think more presence will maybe stop some of these threats that are coming out."
The interim superintendent said other threats had occurred in the last several weeks. He urged parents in an automated phone call to talk to their children about the seriousness surrounding threats and the consequences of making them.
"Please relay to your children the gravity and consequences of making statements of threats," Costanzo said. "Even playful, 'just kidding' statements must be investigated and evaluated through the threat assessment protocol. Please stress the serious nature of threats to your children."
Rush recommends parents monitor what their students are viewing online and on television.
"It all starts at home," Rush said. "Kids have no business watching this garbage, and parents shouldn't let them."
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