An anonymous tip to a school safety tipline took police to the door of a 18-year-old Paul Laurence Dunbar High School student, and since then he has been charged with a felony and police have taken a rifle and about 500 rounds of ammunition from his home, according to court documents.
Timothy Felker is charged with second-degree terroristic threatening, which is punishable by between one and five years in jail, according to a joint release by Mayor Jim Gray’s office and Fayette County Public Schools. Felker was arraigned in Fayette County District Court on Monday.
The online tip was made to the STOP, or Safety Tipline Online Prevention, tipline on Friday Feb. 16, according to Monday’s announcement. The tipster said Felker “owns a gun and constantly talks about killing himself/ shooting up the school. He tells specific people he would shoot them first and then shoot up the classroom,” according to court documents.
Lexington police were notified of the tip the following day.
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When police went to Felker’s home on Feb. 17 they learned he was out of town. Investigators interviewed his mother, who told them Felker had made threats before of “shooting up the school, but it was before he purchased the rifle,” according to court documents.
Felker’s mother agreed to give police the rifle and ammunition, according to court documents.
Felker had flown out of town that weekend and was detained in the airport when he returned on Monday, Feb. 19, according to the news release. Felker was charged on March 2 and released from jail on a $5,000 bond.
Felker has not returned to the high school since the tip was sent in on Feb. 16, according to the announcement. At his arraignment Monday, he was placed on home incarceration with an ankle monitor and barred from buying or possessing firearms.
Felker, a senior, played the role of the Beast in a December production at Dunbar of “Beauty and the Beast Jr.,” a school district spokeswoman confirmed.
Lexington police were assisted by the FBI, the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office and school law enforcement in the investigation leading up to Felker’s arrest, according to the news release.
“This is an example of best practices in action,” Fayette schools superintendent Manny Caulk said. “It’s about connections with students and multi-agency collaboration. The speed at which we’re able to share information is a reflection of the systems we have built to link students, school and district administrators with law enforcement officers at the school, city, and federal level.”
Lexington’s newly sworn-in chief of police, Lawrence Weathers, worked as the head of Fayette County Public Schools law enforcement before being selected as chief.
“It’s so valuable to have a police chief with experience in our schools and on our streets,” Gray said in Monday’s announcement. “We must support our schools seamlessly when there’s a security problem. In this case, we worked together, and did just that.”
Caulk sent a note to Fayette County parents Monday night making them aware of Felker’s arrest and the threats. On Tuesday, Principal Betsy Rains sent an email update to Dunbar parents. In it, she said administrators and school psychologists visited classrooms during the day to discuss the incident and safety measures in place at the school. School officials planned to answer questions in the school library Tuesday evening.
Several unfounded threats against Fayette County schools have been investigated recently. In a note to parents on Sunday, Caulk told parents the district had handled prank social media threats against seven schools.