HOT SPRINGS, AR – Kenneth Allen Moody, an Arkansas man, was arrested for making a phone call in which he threatened to shoot up a couple of high schools, one in Vidalia, Louisiana, the other in Natchez, Mississippi.
The only tie those two schools have is that the towns they are in lie opposite one another on the Mississippi River.
Moody, 31, called the Vidalia Police Department to inform them of his plans for both schools. He is now charged with two counts of making a terroristic threat.
“The suspect will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” Adams County Sheriff Travis Patten said.
Here is what we know about Moody and the calls he made.
A dispatcher received a call from a man saying that he was going to shoot up both schools.
Authorities have not released any of the details surrounding the calls, other than to say that the dispatcher did an amazing job of getting enough details to be able to identify the location of the caller, as she kept him on the phone and talking.
It is not yet known if he identified himself, provided his location, or she was able to extract the details herself.
“She deserves to be commended on the job that she did along with the investigators from the Vidalia Police Department and the Adams County Sheriff’s Office,” Patten said.
“They were able to get the suspect identified in a short period of time which enabled both agencies to coordinate with Hot Springs Police Department to ensure his arrest. After warrants were signed and issued.
Moody was apprehended shortly after that without incident.
This was a great example of agencies working hand in hand in three different states and with Adams County and Concordia school districts to ensure the safety of all staff and students by communicating with each other.”
Moody, who is currently being held in the Garland County (AR) jail awaiting extradition to the Vidalia/Natchez area, is not believed to ties to either school.
Hot Springs is approximately a 5 1/2-hour drive to the area of the schools. Law enforcement is still investigating to determine what him to threaten those two schools specifically.
It is also unknown at this time if he had the means to act on those threats if he had not been arrested.
According to The Natchez Democrat, he is currently on probation in Arkansas and also has a criminal record on Louisiana and Florida.
In 2017, he is alleged to have threatened a man with a gun, as well as making threats to kill local officers and mental health counselors at a location he had sought treatment. It is unclear where those threats occurred.
In May of 2019, he was convicted of aggravated assault and making terroristic threats in Hot Springs.
As the investigation continues, Sheriff Patten made the safety of students, staff and faculty the focal point of where they go from here.
“These types of threats are taken very seriously in light of what has been happening all across the nation that concerns our schools and the children who attend them. The suspect will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
The Adams County Sheriff’s Office worked hand in hand with officials from the Natchez Adams School District and Vidalia Police Department to ensure the safety of the students and staff within Adams County and Vidalia.”
The sheriff also spoke directly to parents of school children in the area.
“To all students, faculty staff and parents, we want to make it clear that any threats will be taken seriously and acted upon as such, as you’ve seen with this incident.
As a parent with children in Natchez Adams School District, I will be making sure my children do not miss their first day of school and I ask that the community does the same with their children.
We ask you all to not let your kids stay home during this first week of school and we will be at every school on the first day to greet your child with a smile as they come to start the new school year off right.”
Fred Butcher, Superintendent of the Natchez-Adams School District, shared his thoughts with local media, saying:
“The safe return of all students and staff and providing a safe and orderly learning environment are of the utmost priority for NASD.
The district will continue, in collaboration with local law enforcement agencies, to update its Crisis Management Plan to ensure the safety of all students and employees.”
For more on the potential threats of school shootings, we point you to the following editorial and invite you to
Police Chief: When the next school shooting happens, we’d better have warriors ready to respond
“Winners always want the ball when the game is on the line”.
This quote in 2000 from the popular classic football movie “The Replacements” exemplifies what winners truly seek. When everything matters, all eyes are watching, and failure would be catastrophic- winners want the responsibility of it all.
The reality is, there will be another school shooting. We are grateful to the officers who are ready and willing to answer this call to action.
They want the ball, because when it comes to the safety of our children, everything is on the line.
The truth is that regardless of active-duty assignment- most police officers, at any given time, could be faced with responding to an active school shooter incident.
This life-threatening emergency must be mitigated quickly and effectively, with no relevance to the officer’s current assignment.
If it were ever permissible to assign lower performing officers to certain positions, most would agree this is no longer acceptable given our national focus on school shooting incidents.
What measures should our law enforcement leaders employ to help identify those officers who simply are unwilling to take the ball, or even show up to the game?
Once we identify those officers who are incapable of engaging in this task, what happens next?
Truth in Training
Training staff members are an important resource to police agencies for many reasons. Their role provides them the opportunity to interact with every member of the agency.
As such, trainers identify instructional needs, performance deficiencies, equipment requirements, curriculum needs and more. Scenario, reality-based, and defensive tactics training provide instructors perhaps the most valuable perspective of officer performance: the human factor of emotion.
Stress induced scenario-based segments are ideal for examining human factors of decision-making, fear, panic, anxiety, cowardice, anger, and other emotions. Police officers engaged in stress induced scenario-based training are rarely able to disguise or alter actual in-time emotions.
Repeated instances of anxiety, panic and cowardice are cause for immediate concern. Cowardice student behavior is sometimes seen as continually choosing a passive role in a stressful conflict scenario.
This may include always pulling the door so fellow officers may enter during a room assault drill, continually taking rear guard in a rescue task force scenario, or repeatedly taking on a communications role during a critical incident exercise.
Additionally, officers who routinely schedule vacation, or request excusals for reality-based or defensive tactics training should be closely reviewed for training deficiencies or performance issues.
Perhaps the most important training goal is to help officers succeed; however, despite remediation attempts, training deficiency plans and the exhaustive efforts of qualified and experienced instructors, there are some officers who will not meet standards.
Leaders should be listening to their trainers, and asking tough questions. There is truth in training.
Officers unable to effectively recover from issues of panic, anxiety and cowardice are demonstrating they have no desire to take the ball, much less win the game.
Hiring and retaining qualified police applicants present many unique and complicated challenges to law enforcement agencies nationwide.
While this is not necessarily a new challenge, the task of hiring our next generation of peacekeepers is ever-increasingly difficult. Leaders must have laser focus on not only their recruiting efforts, but also how to maintain the quality of their personnel.
Our members are worthy of every effort to train, remediate, and promote their professional well-being.
If an agency lacks the ability to identify weaknesses in critical areas of officer duty performance, then the agency is failing the officer, other department members, and the community; however, if an agency recognizes that serious deficiencies exist, and yet fails to intercede, then the agency is complicit in their own negligence.
Any police officer, regardless of the reason, who is unable to perform essential critical response tasks should be removed from active duty without delay. This removal could lead to health or mental evaluation and testing, demotion, or even dismissal.
With such a large focus on recruiting, it seems counterintuitive to seek dismissals rather than re-assignment of officers who demonstrate the inability to perform in high-risk, high value situations. Could these members still be a valuable asset to your organization?
You bet- not every person is wired to perform under tense, high risk situations, and that is ok. These members can still offer value to your agency, but in a non-sworn position.
These are tough conversations to have, and even tougher decisions to make. When it comes to the safety of our children, we simply cannot accept mediocrity as “good enough”.
If we can’t accept mediocrity, then we certainly shouldn’t settle for unsatisfactory performance from those officers who have demonstrated they won’t take the ball.
Shane McSheehy is serving his third year as the Chief of Police for the Pella Police Department in Iowa. He previously served as a Captain with the Eustis Police Department in Florida with over 28 combined years of police service.
Chief McSheehy served as a tactical operator for over 22 years, his last 12 years as the SWAT Commander. He has earned his Master of Science degree in Criminal Justice Administration from Columbia Southern University and has also completed a Master of Science degree in Management and Leadership from Western Governors University.
He served 16 years as an adjunct faculty member of the Lake County School Board, where he instructed recruits, as well as delivered specialized and advanced training courses.
Since 2007, Chief McSheehy has been involved in the tactical training and development of many public service entities in Brazil to include police, BOPE, military, judicial and forensic organizations.
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