False alarm forces La Vergne school lockdown

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Girard Greenfield III
False threats about a bomb left in a La Vergne elementary school principal’s office forced the lockdown of the school and resulted in a grandfather’s arrest Thursday, school resource officers said Friday.

A student’s grandfather met with Lake Elementary School Principal Jeff McCann Thursday morning, SRO James McGoney reported. When the grandfather left, he told a secretary, “You may want to leave within the next five minutes. I just planted something in Mr. McCann’s office.”

Students were locked down while McCann and McGoney searched the office thoroughly and did not find any unusual items. SRO Sgt. Bill West, Deputy Anthony Gordon, McGoney and La Vergne Police drove to the grandfather’s house and talked with him.

Grandfather Girard Greenfield III asked why the officers were at his home, then mentioned a joke. When McGoney asked, “What joke?” Greenfield replied he made a comment about a bomb in McCann’s office. Greenfield said he was upset about an issue at the school and noted he was just kidding and made a bad decision.

McGoney charged Greenfield, 61, with filing a false police report. Greenfield was booked into Rutherford County Adult Detention Center and released on $5,000 bond. A hearing was set Jan. 10 in General Sessions Court.

Sheriff Robert F. Arnold said this case is a good example of why SROs work at elementary schools in Rutherford County.

“In this case, a disgruntled parent who disliked something that happened at school alluded to a bomb in the school,” Arnold said. “Officers were on site. They went right into evacuation mode and locked down the school. The school didn’t have to wait until officers arrived to assess the situation.”

SROs in elementary and middle schools face unique situations such as child custody situations, said the sheriff who is a former SRO.

“It’s very important to provide security for our young people and to help them,” Arnold said.

SRO Capt. Barry Hendrixson said one SRO is assigned to two elementary schools.

This is the fourth incident during the past two months directly related to elementary schools, including a man walking with a gun outside Stewarts Creek Elementary and Middle schools, a gas leak at Brown’s Chapel School that led to an evacuation, an argument of parents at McFadden and the bomb threat.

Besides responding to crises, the elementary and middle school SROs teach good citizenship, stranger danger and safety classes and student life lessons. The SROs provide safety to children and are proactive rather than reactive.

“The proactive part is by teaching class and letting them know we are there to help and we are there all the time, not just when someone is not acting right,” Hendrixson said.  

“Students, teachers and parents have the right to feel safe and to receive the same services from Sheriff Arnold as his deputies no matter what grade they are in,” Hendrixson added.
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Crime, La Vergne, RCSO, Robert Arnold, Rutherford County
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