Teen jailed, accused of threats

May 07, 2014

A 16-year-old Tuscola High School student was arrested by Haywood County Sheriff’s Office deputies Wednesday, accused of threatening the lives of several students.

Deputies arrested Joseph Francis Jacobs, of Maggie Valley, shortly after 10 a.m. upon receiving information from students that Jacobs told them he planned to shoot them.

Jacobs was in class when officers came to campus and escorted him to the principal's office for questioning before arresting him, said Deputy Heidi Warren, public information officer for the Sheriff's Office.

Upon his arrest, officers searched the teen and did not find any weapons, Warrent said. It is unclear at this time what prompted the threats.

Jacobs was charged him with making a false report of mass violence on educational property, a Class H felony. He was also charged with four misdemeanor counts of communicating threats.

He was jailed in lieu of $10,000 secured bond. His first court appearance is scheduled for May 21.

Bill Nolte, associate superintendent of schools, said school officials became aware of the threats through reports from students.

"We're really pleased the alleged allegations were reported to the school quickly, and we're pleased students feel comfortable sharing things they perceive to be as threats," he said. "We live in a society in which information travels fast, and that is a good thing in many instances because a threatening situation can be picked up on more quickly."

Nolte said the best tool available to school and law enforcement officials in keeping schools safe is through people talking to each other and sharing concerns.

Any school disciplinary action is separate from from law enforcement charges. School officials have interviewed students and others who were in the vicinity where threats were made "to be sure we have a complete picture," Nolte said.

From what is currently known, there was never any weapon on campus, he added.

He praised the sheriff's office for responding very rapidly.

The investigation is ongoing as investigators continue to get additional statements from others.

Another student who was arrested in April last year for making threats to make an attack on Tuscola High School to commemorate the Columbine shootings is still awaiting his day in court.

Jonathan Matthew Tingle, now 17, was charged with making a false report of mass violence on educational property. He is not currently in police custody and is scheduled to appear in Haywood County Superior Court Aug. 4.