SALISBURY, Md. — Officials in Wicomico County have been investigating since June 14 an incident where a high school student appeared in a video holding an apparent gun and making racist, threatening remarks targeting Black people.
On June 29, the Wicomico County Sheriff's Office said the suspect - identified only as a 15-year-old boy from Willards - will be charged as a juvenile. He will be charged with misusing mail and disturbing school activities.
The video had been shared among students at Parkside High School in Salisbury, where the suspect is a student.
The video, which was included in a story by WMDT ABC47, shows the student holding what appears to be a gun and saying, "Shoot n****** for fun- you hear me?"
The suspect is also a son of a Wicomico Board of Education member, who is now facing some calls to step down.
Wicomico County Sheriff's Office said it was brought to a school resource officer's attention on June 14. The Sheriff's Office determined the rifle was a pellet rifle, and it was seized as part of the investigation. The Sheriff's Office notes it's continuing to investigate, and the student in the video "will not be at the school for what remains of the school year."
The Wicomico County Democratic Central Committee posted on Facebook that it's asking Board of Education member Tonya Laird Lewis, whose son was featured in the video, to resign and not run for reelection.
Sarah Meyers, Chair of the WCDCC, said in the statement: “Threats of racial violence, which was what Tonya Lewis’ son made, are never to be dismissed as simply humor or ‘poor decisions.' The use of a semi-automatic rifle in the video by a minor makes the video even more inexcusable. Such behavior is learned and usually learned at home first... Mrs. Lewis’ silence on this matter is a dereliction of duty as a member of the Wicomico County Board of Education and downright dangerous.”
Lewis gave the following statement earlier: "Right now, we are focusing on our son and following the policy and the protocols set forth by the sheriff's office and the Wicomico County public school system."
Wicomico County Public Schools said in a statement:
Providing a safe and welcoming school setting for our students, staff and families is our top priority, today and every day of the school year. As we deal this week with a safety concern about a student’s video, the Wicomico County Public School System assures our school system community and the community as a whole that we are taking this matter very seriously.
On Tuesday, Parkside High School administration was made aware of an extremely concerning video apparently created by a Parkside student that shows a teenager with a gun uttering a violent racist statement. The video had been shared among students, with word about it being spread through social media. Because of the content of the video many people from that school community and beyond have contacted us with questions and concerns.
Please know that this video does not in any way reflect the feelings or teachings of the student’s school or of Wicomico County Public Schools. Much like those who have contacted us about the video, we are shocked and revolted by both the language and the visual content of this video.
While we are unable to comment on an individual student due to federal privacy rules, and cannot speak on an active investigation, please know that an investigation of this video and the student involved was immediately begun by school administration and Safe Schools personnel and is ongoing. Our school system is working cooperatively with law enforcement to fully investigate this matter, which will also be handled in accordance with the Code of Conduct.
We thank those who shared their concerns about the video with the student’s school administrators so this matter could be addressed quickly. Supporting safety in our schools and our community is a priority for all of us, and It’s important for everyone to say something if they see or hear something concerning.