After several schools in south Georgia went into lockdown, Valdosta high school was the next one to be targeted by a fake shooting threat. First responders jumped into action, doing multiple sweeps to ensure that the building was safe.
Omar White, an all-state defensive player who recently committed to Colorado, is charged with two felonies in connection with the incident.
The South Georgia city of Valdosta has been rocked by a pair of shootings that left two teenagers injured. One of them was stabbed while fighting at a bus stop, while the other was shot walking to the bus. The two incidents are not connected, police said. Both teens were treated and released from a hospital. Police are searching for suspects in the cases, WCTV reported.
Several schools in southwest Georgia went into lockdown Wednesday morning after reports of an active shooter. Valdosta High School was among them. After the district notified parents, first responders jumped into action and began sweeping the campus.
They eventually found that there were no shooters and that the call was a hoax. However, some people were still experiencing panic and anxiety attacks. They were being treated by first responders on site.
At around 2 p.m., police received calls about shots fired at a parking lot on Willie Houseal Drive. The area is just steps away from Scott Park and a mile from Pinevale Elementary School. The caller claimed that someone was shot, and there were multiple injuries, WCTV reported. The caller also described the suspect, according to police.
Then, just 10 minutes later, police received another 911 call that children were fighting at a bus stop on West Central Avenue. The caller described the suspect as a white male with long dark hair. Police converged on the scene, but the incident turned out to be a false alarm.
Police have not released any information about the second victim, but they have charged an all-state football player with three felonies in connection with the attack. Omar White is charged with felony aggravated assault, felony aggravated battery, and felony possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime.
The GBI has not released any details about the third victim, but it is believed to be a 20-year-old man who was shot in the chest, the Times reported. A 19-year-old woman and a 16-year-old boy were wounded in the other shooting. The 20-year-old is being treated at SGMC, while the 16-year-old is in stable condition.
Who is the suspect?
The suspect has not been arrested as of yet. The investigation is ongoing, and the GBI is hoping that anyone who has information will come forward to help them uncover what exactly happened that led to Brianna Long’s death. She was a Valdosta State University student pursuing a dental hygiene degree.
Earlier in the week, school systems across Georgia were placed on lockdown after a threat of an active shooter. The threat turned out to be a hoax, but it left some students on edge and scared to go to school. One student who was worried about the incident took a selfie in her home to show to her parents. The photo has since gone viral and is a sign that people are still fearful.
In another shooting in Valdosta, a 14-year-old girl was shot and killed in her bedroom. The shooting occurred at a house on North Lee Street in Valdosta, and police say that the victim was shot by someone outside the residence who pulled a gun. The victim’s name has not been released, but her family is requesting privacy during this difficult time.
During the investigation, investigators discovered that two juveniles ran into a house and asked if they could purchase a PlayStation 5. The homeowner shot at the pair, who then ran away. Detectives have been able to track down three of the juveniles and found that the fourth is staying at a home off Lakeside Drive. Detectives are now searching for Dontavious Jahi Dayquion Lester, who is believed to be responsible for the shooting.
He is also known for threatening to kill his girlfriend’s sister with a pistol. He has a history of violence and has been convicted of unlawful possession of a weapon in the past. He is currently serving ten years in prison for illegally possessing a firearm. He will be required to serve the whole ten years before he can apply for parole. The GBI is still investigating the case. The suspect will likely face additional charges in this case.
What are the possible motives?
There are several possible motives for the shooting. One possibility is that the shooter was motivated by racial hatred or prejudice against African Americans. Another option is that the shooter was motivated by political ideology or beliefs. Finally, it is possible that the shooter was inspired by a desire to gain attention or notoriety. The investigation is ongoing, and no further details are available at this time.
The community is reeling from the tragic death of Valdosta State University student Brianna Long. The 21-year-old was shot outside a bar in Remerton, which is adjacent to Valdosta. Police are investigating the incident and are working tirelessly to find out what happened.
Despite the fact that the incident was a hoax, schools throughout the state and country were placed on lockdown due to the rumors. This puts a lot of stress on students and their families. In Colquitt County, numerous investigators were at Willie J Williams Middle School doing interviews and keeping an increased security presence.
According to the New York Times, an all-state high school football player is being investigated for a shooting in the area of Valdosta. The shooting took place at around 7 p.m. on Monday. Police are interviewing witnesses and collecting evidence. No arrests have been made at this time.
A Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) agent has interviewed Stephen Paul Beck, who remains hospitalized. According to the GBI, Beck admitted he called 911 and then shot Officer Hancock because he wanted police to kill him as he suffered from depression. He also said he did not hate the police. He is expected to be charged with aggravated assault on a police officer.
The GBI has interviewed many people who may have seen the incident happen. They are asking for the public to come forward with any information they have on this incident. Anyone with any information should call the GBI or Crime Stoppers at 1-877-CRIME-TIPS.
In addition to the recent tragedy in South Georgia, there has been a string of other troubling incidents across the nation. FIRE recently won a significant victory in the case of VSU student Hayden Barnes, who was expelled from school without a hearing by the university’s Board of Regents for his activism both on campus and online. This case is similar to the mysterious death of Kendrick Johnson, whose body was found in a rolled-up gym mat three years ago. His parents believe that his death was no accident and blame two classmates at Lowndes High, Branden and Brian Bell. The family continues to fight for justice and hopes that new leads will emerge.
What can be done?
The death of Brianna Long, a 21-year-old student at Valdosta State University and Paulding County High School soccer player who was shot and killed over the weekend at the Pier Bar in Remerton, Georgia, has highlighted the need for our state to do more to prevent school shootings. The GBI continues to investigate the incident, and while we may never know the circumstances leading to her untimely death, her family and community are mourning their loss.
We cannot afford to wait any longer to enact comprehensive reforms that will ensure our schools are safe and that students, faculty, and staff can focus on learning and thriving. Legislators in Texas have made much of a 2019 law they claim will harden schools, but we must be careful not to let short-term security concerns distract us from the comprehensive and evidence-based solutions we know to reduce risk and increase safety:
School districts need to invest in trauma-informed crisis intervention systems that empower school leaders to intervene with a full range of resources when a student is at immediate risk, including access to mental health support. We also need to strengthen and fund the role of school-based teams that can receive information about a potential threat, evaluate it, and design interventions to keep kids safe.
Finally, we must enact comprehensive reforms to reduce gun violence in schools, including secure firearm storage laws and practices that address the primary source of guns used in school shootings, Extreme Risk laws, so that law enforcement and family members can act on warning signs and temporarily prevent access to firearms; and raising the age to purchase semi-automatic weapons to 21.
Educators, parents, and all people who care about the future of our children need to continue to demand a comprehensive plan to protect their kids. Monty Exter is a senior lobbyist with the Association of Texas Professional Educators. Disclosure: The Association of Texas Professional Educators and the Texas AFT are financial supporters of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization funded by donations from members, foundations, and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the editorial decisions.