Parents, teachers discuss security at Wake Forest school amid man's threats
Posted September 27, 2018 5:28 p.m. EDT
Updated September 27, 2018 10:37 p.m. EDT
Wake Forest, N.C. — Parents and teachers of Jones Dairy Elementary School gathered Thursday evening to talk about security at the school, which has been the target of online threats by a man who lives nearby.
Arthur Vladimir Kochetkov, 33, was charged last week with communicating threats and making a false report concerning mass violence on educational property. Kochetkov also was charged in June with trespassing on school property.
According to an application for a warrant to search the house on Tiffield Way where Kochetkov lives with his parents – it backs up to the Jones Dairy Elementary property – he made expletive-filled posts on Facebook threatening to shoot up schools. The posts include photos of guns, Wake Forest police cars, a Wake County deputy's car and state Superintendent of Public Instruction Mark Johnson.
Despite the photos of guns, police seized only two air rifles from Kochetkov's home, as well as computers, cellphones and a gaming console, according to the search warrant.
Jones Dairy Elementary parents have been concerned about Kochetkov for a while, and the PTA moved its meeting to Heritage Middle School to accommodate the crowd.
"[There's] a lot of tension. A lot of people were really stressed, and [there's] a lot of fear," one parent said Thursday.
The search warrant application notes police run-ins with Kochetkov since 2015, including welfare checks on his mental status and involuntary psychiatric commitments.
Wake County Public School System officials said security has been increased around Jones Dairy Elementary. An armed off-duty officer patrols the school grounds, a fence, security cameras and security film on windows have been added, and children aren't allowed outside.
At Thursday's PTA meeting, parents voiced their concerns, including teacher training in the event of an active shooter situation.
"I think teachers need support also. I think they need to be trained to know what to do," said parent Adrhin Poole.
Kochetov's mother, Lessia Kochetkov, has said her son is bipolar and suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, but he isn't a threat.
"They don't know Arthur, who he is. To them, he's a threat. To me, he is a child who has mental illness," Lessia Kochetkov said in June.
One Jones Dairy parent said getting Arthur Kochetkov mental health treatment could be part of the answer.
"I think they are doing everything in their power to ensure the safety of the students," he said. "I think the question that still needs to be answered is what is going to be done long-term to ensure the safety of the Jones Dairy community, the students especially and most importantly, as well as the surrounding area, getting the individual the treatment he needs."
Arthur Kochetkov remains in the Wake County Jail under $200,000 secured bond, but many are worried about what will happen when he is eventually released.
"When we hear in the meeting tonight like 'We're assessing armed security post the release,' 'We'll assess it as we go in time,' it just gives us, emotionally, pause for concern here," parent Nick Pione said.
Pione's wife, and many other parents, wondered about their options and whether or not they can pull their children out of Jones Dairy Elementary and send them to a different school.
"We know he's locked up now, but we worry about what's to come down the line," Katie Pione said.
Wake County and Jones Dairy administrators did their best Thursday night to reassure parents that there is a plan to keep the school safe that involves the district attorney and SBI agents.
"Everyone is working together to make sure, number one, our school is safe and also everyone gets the help that they need and we have a good, long-term solution here," PTA President Leslie Fielding-Russell said.
With Kochetkov still behind bars, the school is considering allowing students to use outdoor play areas again while under strict security.
Kochetkov's next court appearance is scheduled for Oct. 10 and many parents at Thursday night's PTA meeting said they plan to attend the court hearing.