Knives, fireworks, hit list found inside high school student's bookbag

(Source: Union County Sheriff's Office)
(Source: Union County Sheriff's Office)

UNION COUNTY, NC (WBTV) - A teenager was reportedly found with multiple weapons, including knives and fireworks, along with a hit list inside a school in Union County.

According to the Union County Sheriff, the school's Resource Officer at Forest Hills High School discovered several knives, a bottle of flammable liquid, fireworks, a dismantled shotgun shell and a "hit list" inside the book bag of a student Tuesday.

The NC State Bureau of Investigation's ISAAC (Information Sharing and Analysis Center) Unit received information from a Canadian law enforcement agency concerning chat room discussions involving threats of violence by a Forest Hills High School student. The threats indicated the student intended to stab several kids at school Tuesday.

According to the sheriff's office, the "hit list" contained names of multiple individuals and the school district is working to notify people who were named on the list.

Officials say the teenager is under the age of 16 and their identity is being withheld. Criminal charges are forthcoming.

"Whenever I first heard about the threat, I thought it another hoax to you know just get us out of school," said student Malik Huntley.

That was not the case Tuesday. Deputies had gained intelligence leading them to believe there was a serious threat to students at the school, according to Tony Underwood, Chief Communications Officer with the Union County Sheriff's Office.

"Fortunately we believe we've averted a potential catastrophe today," said Underwood.

He said that the sheriff's office does not think the planned attack was a terror plot. When asked if bullying could have led to the student's creation of the hit list, Underwood replied, "it's a possibility."

Underwood said that investigators are still unsure what motivated this student to do what he did. He said the student was detained by law enforcement officers, but was then released into the custody of his parents.

Underwood said there were around a dozen names on the hit list. He said everyone on the list had been notified that their names were on the hit list.

He said there would probably be extra security at the school Wednesday.

"The deputies and specifically the School Resource Officer, along with Union County Public Schools did an outstanding job of quickly identifying the student involved with the chat room discussions and finding the weapons before a tragedy happened," Sheriff Eddie Cathey said. "I also need to thank the SBI and ISAAC for bringing this matter to our attention as quickly as they did."

Sheriff Cathey also reminds parents to speak with their kids and encourage them to talk to school officials or an SRO if they are having problems at school or feel threatened by other students. He encourages anyone with information about threats of school violence to notify authorities.

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