School officials talk about arrest of Peytona man charged with making threats at Sherman Elementary School
Sherman Elementary School in Comfort
COMFORT – On Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2013, deputies with the Boone County Sheriff's Department arrested Herman Dewayne Pickens, 53, of Peytona, for “Threats of Terrorist Acts” at Sherman Elementary School in Comfort.
On Thursday, Boone County Schools' officials spoke with the Coal Valley News about the arrest.
“Mr. Pickens was requested to come to the school to meet with the school‘s principal Brenda Viars, Boone County Schools Executive Director of School Safety and Transportation Steve Bradley and law enforcement with the Boone County Sheriff’s Department regarding previous incidents involving Mr. Pickens not following the school’s protocols, policies and procedures,” said Boone County Schools Assistant Superintendent Jeff Huffman. “Mr. Pickens allegedly didn’t like that visitors are required to enter the school through a certain door, sign in at the office and other rules.”
Huffman said there is a child that attends the school that Pickens drops off and picks up at times.
“I don’t know if it is his child, grandchild or just a child under his care,” Huffman said.
Deputies were made aware that Pickens had been in the school on a previous occasion and made specific threats concerning a firearm, to the staff of the school.
Corporal B.G. Browning encountered Pickens inside the school and Pickens had a firearm holster on his belt where it was visible to students and staff.
Boone County Schools Superintendent John Hudson said Pickens did not have a gun inside of the school.
"No individual, to my knowledge, brought a gun inside of the school," Hudson explained. "He had a firearm holster that was empty."
Police said Pickens also had in his possession a folding knife, which is prohibited on school grounds.
However, in close proximity to the school and inside Pickens' vehicle, officers located a loaded .40 caliber semiautomatic handgun, according to the police report.
Also, on at least two prior occasions this month, Pickens brandished the empty holster to the staff and made threats of not leaving his gun in his vehicle the next time he came in, according to police.
"This is why we called the police to the school," Hudson said.
Police said these acts made the staff fear for the safety of their lives as well as the lives of the children inside the school.
Rumors that Pickens was upset that the child under his care was being bullied at the school and that being the reason for his behavior are unsubstantiated.
“We have never heard anything like that from anyone, including Mr. Pickens,” Huffman said. “He appeared to be having problems with following the school’s rules, protocols, policies and procedures.”
Pickens was taken before Magistrate C. Porter Snodgrass and arraigned Wednesday afternoon, Jan. 23, 2013. A $100,000 property bond was set.