CULPEPER, Va. — A day after a reported threat prompted students to "stay in place" at Culpeper County High School, questions are growing about the response.
A staff member conducting daily restroom checks noticed a dislodged ceiling tile and found a box of ammunition on Wednesday morning. For more than three hours, the school instructed students and faculty to "stay in place," which means they must clear hallways and bathrooms and continue to work in classrooms. Students were escorted by class to the cafeteria and bathroom.
“It’s not really comforting,” CCHS senior Logan Fox told WUSA9. “It’s supposed to the safer school in Culpeper.”
Law enforcement agencies responded, including the Culpeper County Sheriff’s Office. However, one of the people who joined is the son of Culpeper County Sheriff Scott Jenkins, who is paid by the department in some capacity despite being a student, according to a law enforcement source close to the situation.
The source confirmed to WUSA9 that the 17-year-old left school, picked up a sheriff’s office tactical vest from his vehicle, and joined responding deputies.
“I think it’s kind of strange,” said CCHS substitute teacher Tracy Fox. “Maybe he did it for all the right reasons but for me as a parent, it’s a safety thing. Even if he’s paid or whatever, he should have to stay in place like other students and faculty.”
Virginia law states minimum qualifications to become any member of law enforcement including deputies must have a high school education or have passed a high school equivalency and be at least 18 years old.
Virginia Sheriff’s Association Executive Director John Jones was not able to comment on the incident, but tells WUSA9, “I know there are sheriffs that have 18-year-old deputy sheriffs, but I don’t know of any sheriffs that have 17-year-old sheriff deputies or anyone younger than 18.”
WUSA9 has reached out to the sheriff’s office and Sheriff Jenkins, who is accused by federal officials of accepting bribes to deputize people, for comment but haven’t heard back.
“The same rules that applied to the other students should have applied to him as well,” added Fox.
WUSA9 also asked the school district on how a 17-year-old student was able to leave school during a "stay in order" announcement. CCPS spokesperson Laura Hoover said, “All inquiries regarding law enforcement response and use of personnel should be directed to the Culpeper County Sheriff’s Office.”
Hoover didn’t respond to our follow-up questions.