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Buse discusses youth fights

By Michael Butler

There has been a string of recent altercations involving teenagers. Tallassee High School students have been in the mix with incidents occuring on and off campus requiring police intervention.

On Monday, Oct. 25, the THS campus went on a lockdown to diffuse the most recent situation. Tallassee Police Chief Todd Buce spoke on the matter.

"First of all, on the weekend we had an altercation between some West Tallassee and East Tallassee students off campus, that spurred an altercation that happened (Monday) between the same individuals. That was quickly broken up."

The campus incident occured at approximately 11 a.m. on Monday at the high school.

"Once they were separated and removed from the campus, social media blew up - a bunch of different, unsubstantiated threats - threats nonetheless. They mentioned somebody shooting at the school. I take it very serious. At that time we were notified by the SRO (Student Resource Officer).

"They went from soft lockdown to a hard lockdown. They keep all the students and faculty buttoned up inside the school to make sure there is no actual threat or perpetrators. Once the whole area was secure, we released the school from the lockdown."

Portable classrooms on the back side of the THS campus

The fight on school grounds involved three students. The one off the campus had more students involved, but they had dispersed prior to police arrival. Buce noted that despite rumors, he does not suspect that the incidents are gang related.

"No gang activity was substantiated from any of my SROs looking into it. From everything that I was told, it was some students that used to attend Reeltown that now are in Tallassee. It was stemming from the old rivalry."

Buce stated that there was another incident last week that began on campus and carried over the CVS parking lot next door.

"That was a different set of juveniles. I'm not positive on the number, but I (think) we took eight individuals into custody."

Videos have been circulated of the on-campus fight showing school personnel attempting to break up things.

"We didn't have any injuries," Buce said. "All my officers were right on the spot separating everybody and administrators were helping them out."

In all, Tallassee authorities are aware of four different student-related incidents over the past week.

"It's not all the same students. It's not the same grades. A lot of it stems from off the school campus. I've sent out extra patrol on the locations where it's happened off campus. My SROs are very much involved in making sure each one of their campuses are safe."

Tallassee City Schools superintendent Dr. Brock Nolin said misinformation on social media exacerbated the situation on Monday.

"It was dealt with appropriately by the administration and SROs. Individuals took to social media and began making posts concerning the high school. Due to this, the administration decided to place the school on lockdown to assess the situation. Additional police officers were requested and after securing the perimeter and determining there was no immediate threat, students proceeded to their normal schedule.

"Unfortunately, social media is a super highway of misinformation and allows situations to escalate quickly. I would like to thank the Tallassee Police Department for responding quickly. I would also like to thank the high school administration, teachers and staff for responding quickly and appropriately to keep the students safe. The safety protocols we practice in the lockdown drills were put into play to keep our students safe."