SHOTS

The Covington News - - Local news -

ad­dress on Emer­son Trail in The Si­los sub­di­vi­sion at roughly 11:42 p.m. in ref­er­ence to a large group of peo­ple fight­ing. When the deputy ar­rived he no­ticed peo­ple walk­ing away from the area where the fight was re­ported and as he made his way on foot through the crowd, the deputy re­port­edly heard what sounded like gun­shots com­ing from Trin­ity Lane and Emer­son Trial and ducked for cover.

While in­ves­ti­gat­ing, the deputy spoke to three peo­ple who re­port­edly told him some­one had been shoot­ing into a crowd from the top of a hill and that their ve­hi­cle had been van­dal­ized by a base­ball bat as well as shot. Ac­cord­ing to re­ports, the in­ci­dent be­gan when some­one at the party had been jumped. That’s when the TEC-9 came into play as some­one be­gan shoot­ing it in the air. Spent 9-mm shell cas­ings were later found.

The deputy was told by peo­ple in at­ten­dance that the party had been for New­ton High School stu­dents and the foot­ball team. NHS coach Nick Collins said his en­tire foot­ball team was not in at­ten­dance, but that some mem­bers of the team had been guests at the party. He also said the party was given for a stu­dent that was leav­ing the school and stu­dents from other area high schools were in at­ten­dance as well.

Ac­cord­ing to NHS prin­ci­pal Dr. Rod­er­ick Sams, al­though the event was not school-re­lated, school of­fi­cials have been looking into the mat­ter.

“We are looking into whether or not any­one that may be in­volved in the shoot­ing is a stu­dent and up to this point we have not de­ter­mined if any­one ac­tu­ally in­volved were stu­dents. We want to make sure that we take the ap­pro­pri­ate action if one of our stu­dents was in­volved and we want to make sure the school is pro­tected,” he said.

The schools do have poli­cies in their codes of con­duct that al­low them to look at in­ci­dences that hap­pen out­side of the school in­volv­ing stu­dents and that can ad­versely af­fect the school and take action ac­cord­ingly in or­der to pro­tect the stu­dents.

Sams said re­source of­fi­cers and ad­min­is­tra­tors have been speak­ing with stu­dents they be­lieve were guests at the party to see if they have any ad­di­tional in­for­ma­tion that could as­sist the NCSO with their in­ves­ti­ga­tion. He also said the school keeps in con­stant con­tact with par­ents to make sure they are do­ing what they need to in or­der to pro­tect the stu­dents at NHS.

Some par­ents have ques­tioned the va­lid­ity of the in­ci­dent re­port. Ac­cord­ing to Mark Heg­wood, who is in­ves­ti­gat­ing the in­ci­dent, he has no more in­for­ma­tion as of press time about the in­ci­dent but has no doubt the deputy who re­sponded re­ported the in­ci­dent cor­rectly and that the in­for­ma­tion he re­leased was in­for­ma­tion he was given by those in at­ten­dance.

Sher­iff Joe Ni­chols also stood by the deputy, say­ing “All our deputies are duty sworn and it is their re­spon­si­bil­ity to record what is given to them. I have no rea­son to doubt that deputy and I stand by him and the in­ci­dent re­port.”

Sams has not ques­tioned the in­ci­dent re­port. His main con­cern is for stu­dents from all schools at the party as well as those who may not have been there but might be af­fected none­the­less.

“When I hear about th­ese things I cringe be­cause the like­li­hood of some­thing se­ri­ous hap­pen­ing is be­com­ing a re­al­ity,” he said. “The last thing I want to do is at­tend some memo­rial ser­vice for one of my stu­dents. At the end of the day we are all re­spon­si­ble to make sure that none of our chil­dren en­gage in danger­ous ac­tiv­i­ties.”

Ac­cord­ing to Di­rec­tor of Pub­lic Re­la­tions for the New­ton County School Sys­tem Sherri Viniard, “From what we’ve been told, this was a pri­vate party that occurred dur­ing the fall break, when schools were closed. It was not an event spon­sored or sanc­tioned by any of our schools. With that be­ing said, stu­dents, es­pe­cially those at the high school level, should re­mem­ber and un­der­stand that they rep­re­sent their schools ev­ery day—not just Mon­day through Fri­day from 8 to 4. Al­though we haven’t been in­formed of any stu­dent in­volve­ment or ar­rests in con­nec­tion with the in­ci­dent that occurred, stu­dents and their par­ents should keep in mind that cer­tain law vi­o­la­tions can and will re­sult in dis­ci­plinary action at school.”

Sams stressed the re­spon­si­bil­ity of adults and stu­dents alike. “I tell my stu­dents all the time there is no such thing as a snitch. Every­one has a re­spon­si­bil­ity to sup­press in­ap­pro­pri­ate be­hav­ior,” he said. “Not telling makes it seem like you con­done th­ese things and I know that isn’t true for our stu­dents or our par­ents.

“I have 2,100 kids in this school and I love ev­ery one of them,” Sams con­tin­ued, “but I will do any­thing I have to in or­der to keep th­ese stu­dents and this school safe. If we are go­ing to tackle this it needs to be a com­mu­nity-wide ef­fort and we need to all be the type of qual­ity adults that do not shy away from our re­spon­si­bil­ity and re­al­ize our chil­dren are a re­flec­tion of us.”

In­ves­ti­ga­tor Heg­wood en­cour­ages any­one with in­for­ma­tion about the per­son or per­sons in­volved in the shoot­ing on Oct. 9 to con­tact the NCSO with in­for­ma­tion at (678) 625-1400. Callers can re­main anony­mous. Tips may also be left anony­mously at www.sher­iff.co.new­ton.ga.us.

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