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Incident at school creates "hysteria'

COVINGTON - Newton High School is offering a reward for anyone who has the name of the person or people responsible for lighting firecrackers in a school restroom Jan. 9.

Just before 8:30 a.m. Jan. 9, an unknown suspect or suspects lit two packs of firecrackers in the boys restroom near the commons area of the school, according to a Newton County Sheriff's Office incident report.

"The incident created hysteria and caused injuries to several students," the report reads.

Deputy Anthony Washington responded to a call from Lt. Mark Mitchell about the incident.

"Upon my arriving, I observed many parents arriving to inquire about what had taken place," Washington's report reads. "I was greeted by numerous students who stated that someone was shooting in the school. Several other students stated that someone lit firecrackers."

After contacting several administrators, Washington said in his report that school Principal Joe Gheesling and Assistant Principal Christina Sneed found "several stalls with firecracker confetti on the floor.

"They then alerted the staff that everything was fine," Washington said in his report.

According to the report, Gheesling said the school will offer a $200 reward for the name of the person or persons responsible for the incident.

The report said that throughout the school day, students provided names of individuals who could have been involved in the incident, but Sherri Viniard, director of public relations for the Newton County School System, said the incident is still under investigation and that the school is following up on leads.

"We still don't know who was responsible," she said. "There were teachers on duty in the mall commons at the time of the incident. The school has posted additional teachers in the commons area and added more cameras to monitor the activity there."

Michelle Floyd can be reached at michelle.floyd@newtoncitizen.com.