TYLER, Texas (KETK) – A 17-year-old is behind bars after an investigation into threats of a school shooting at Winona High School.
The investigation started when the FBI National Threat Operations Center got an anonymous tip about the threat of a school shooting at an unknown date and time in the Smith County area. The case was assigned to the FBI Tyler Division as well as investigators with the Smith County Sheriff’s Office Wednesday.
KETK News spoke to a concerned parent who made an anonymous tip. They did not wish to share their identity, but they shared the reason for why they made the tip.
“She came up to me, and she’s like mom. I always tell her to go with her gut. She said she had a gut feeling something is going to happen.”
The investigation began that same morning when a Smith County investigator and two FBI agents went to Winona High School where they met with school administrators. Through their initial investigation, they identified the suspect as 17-year-old Tyler Auston Tate, a 10th grade student at WHS.
“This thing, from looking at it, seems to go back a little farther than what we were at first led to believe, and really believe we should have been contacted about this much sooner than we were, but we’ll deal with that,” Smith County Sheriff Larry Smith said.
According to the sheriff’s office, evidence was gathered including documentation of credible threats of death and/or serious bodily injury to individual students at the high school.
An arrest warrant was signed by Judge Austin Reeve Jackson for terroristic threat, a third degree felony, and issued for Tate.
Smith County investigators and deputies went to Tate’s workplace on Highway 271 North in Smith County. Tate was arrested and taken to the Smith County Jail. His bond was set at $1 million and he remains behind bars.
A concerned parent said they wish the situation was treated more seriously.
“Why they didn’t treat it as serious as it is? why did it take for the parents contacting other agencies to get them to come figure out what was going on?,” said the concerned parent.
Another concerned parent said that her daughter said she had a gut feeling that something was going to happen.
“Here at the Smith County Sheriff’s Office, any potential threat against a student or anyone, we will always take seriously,” Smith said. “If you don’t mean it, don’t say it, because you will be dealt with and dealt with swiftly.”