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False threat puts schools on lockdown

Greenville Middle School, Greenville Elementary School and W.O. Parmer Elementary were placed on lockdown Thursday after school officials were alerted to a possible threat.

Greenville Elementary School principal Kent McNaughton contacted the Central Office on Thursday and notified Superintendent Amy Bryan that he had learned of a potential threat to the campus.

School officials then initiated the lockdown, which lasted about an hour.

“We secured the kids,” said Bryan. “We learned in the process that the threat was directed not at the school, but to the Central Office. Police reacted, asked questions of the person who had supposedly made the threat and found out it was actually a second party who had accused him of that, so they took away that gentleman who made the false allegation.”

Capt. Justin Lovvorn, commander of the Criminal Investigation Division of the Greenville Police Department, received a call from the school system notifying him of the threat.

“We got a call from the school around 8:07 this morning,” said Lovvorn. “They stated that an anonymous caller had called them and stated that a specific person was supposed to bring a gun to the school, and there was a threat to be dealt with there.”

Upon receiving information regarding the identity of the potential gunman, police began attempting to locate the suspect. Schools such as W.O. Parmer, GES and GMS were locked down, as well as the Central Office.

After locating the suspect, Lovvorn questioned and searched the immediate area as well as the suspect. No gun was found, and the threat was determined to be unsubstantiated.

“I then went through the process of determining who made the phone call, and was able to track back a phone number and track it to a specific person,” said Lovvorn. “He did admit that he made the call and could not justify making the specific threat that he did involving the specific person he mentioned.”

Jonathan Paul Smith, 32, from Greenville, was taken into custody and has been charged with falsely reporting an incident. He is being held in the Butler County Correctional Facility on a $3,000 bond.

Bryan said there was no real threat posed to the students, but the school system took steps to ensure their safety by enacting emergency preparedness methods.

“We reacted to ensure their safety,” she said. “They were never truly threatened or in danger at all, but we couldn’t not react as if it were real.”