A Crawford County High School sophomore said he hoped to spread Christmas cheer at school by dressing as Santa Claus. But with parents and school administrators on guard after the shootings at Newtown, John George III of Roberta was suspended when his "preview" on Facebook was interpreted as a threat.
George posted on his Facebook post at around 7 p.m. Tuesday: "Students of cchs ur in for a big surprise tomorrow <let the games begin>."
A parent found the post threatening and called police.
According to a police incident report, an officer then interviewed the parent and reviewed George's Facebook page. The officer said it "appeared to have a very Gothic and dark theme," with references to gangs and fighting.
At 10 p.m. Tuesday, two officers went
to John George's home and questioned him and his parents.
George said the post referred to plans for him and two friends to go to school dressed as Santa and his elves. Police say George's mother confirmed that her son bought a Santa costume. George said he had revealed his plans to a teacher at school.
The police report said: "We then spoke briefly about the nature of the post and how with the recent tragedy of school shootings that had occurred that the post could cause unrest if taken the wrong way. We then left the residence without further incident."
But at the request of school principal Mike Campbell, police followed up Wednesday morning by escorting George off his school bus and taking him directly to the principal's office.
Campbell issued a news release Wednesday calling the Facebook post "disturbing," and said George was suspended while the school investigated.
In an interview with 13WMAZ, the principal said the post was troubling in light of the school shootings in Newtown, Conn.
And Roberta's police chief Ben Thomas told us: "I guess it could have been that, with all the stuff that happened in the elementary school last week, the shootings and all, have people concerned."
George's father, John Jr. says the comparisons to Connecticut were an unfair assault on his son's character. "We don't own any guns. We don't have any of that stuff going on here and we don't believe in it. We're a good family. He's a mouthy kid like all of them, but he comes back in tune with everything and doesn't cause any problems."
John George III said "taking something innocent like this and turning it into, like, World War II, it's ridiculous."
Reporter Thomas George is not related to John George III or his family.