A student in Georgia who planned to go to school dressed as Santa Claus was instead suspended after school officials perceived an enigmatic Facebook message about his plan as a threat.
On Tuesday at approximately 7 p.m., John George III, a sophomore at Crawford County High School, posted on his Facebook page: “Students of cchs ur in for a big surprise tomorrow <let the games begin>,” reports WMAZ-TV.
A parent saw George’s cryptic post, found it alarming in light of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting and notified local police.
After further discussions with the concerned parent, a police officer in Roberta — where George resides — independently reviewed George’s Facebook page. In the officer’s opinion, George’s page “appeared to have a very Gothic and dark theme,” WMAZ reports. There were also allusions to gangs and fighting.
By 10 p.m. Tuesday night, two local police officers were at George’s residence, interrogating him as well as his parents.
George explained to the officers that his ambiguous Facebook post was a reference to a plan he and two friends had concocted to go to school attired as Santa and a couple of elves.
George’s mother was able to verify that her son had purchased a Santa Claus costume recently, notes WMAZ. George said one of his teachers knew of his plans and could also confirm his alibi.
“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,” the officers wrote in their report, according to the station. “We then left the residence without further incident.”
Mike Campbell, the principal at Crawford County High School, was not satisfied, however. At his request, police met George when he arrived at school Wednesday morning via school bus. They then escorted the young man directly to Campbell’s office.
Campbell then suspended George, pending further fact-finding by the school’s crack investigative team.
Campbell also issued a press release Wednesday that called George’s Facebook post “disturbing” in light of the recent massacre at Sandy Hook, according to WMAZ.
George called the series of events “ridiculous,” WMAZ says.
George’s father, John Jr., isn’t pleased, either. He charged that his son’s reputation has been unfairly sullied.
“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,” the elder George told the station. “He’s a mouthy kid like all of them, but he comes back in tune with everything and doesn’t cause any problems.”