(T-G Photo by David Melson)
Ricky Glenn Petty, 46, of McBurg Road in the Frankewing area of Lincoln County has been charged with filing a false report, Detective Sgt. Brian Crews of the Shelbyville Police Department said.
"There was a threat directed toward schoolyard children in Shelbyville," Crews said. "We were able to develop him as a person of interest through video footage from Pilot Truck Stop. Given the content we were able to identify him."
Petty has no previous record, Crews said.
The threat, received just after 10 a.m. Wednesday as schools were letting out for the Christmas holidays, caused a lockdown for students in the School-Age Care Program.
Three messages were signed with another person's name, Crews said. Police are declining to release the exact wording of the messages.
"We don't believe there was ever a threat to harm children," Crews explained, "We believe it was an effort to put the monkey on someone else's back."
The person whose name was falsely signed played an important part in helping identify Petty as a suspect, Crews said.
"We spoke to the person whose name was signed and we were able to narrow down a lot of possible suspects."
Petty is employed by a Chattanooga-based maintenance firm and is "on the road a lot," which would explain his presence at a truck stop, Crews said. He was formerly employed by a Shelbyville trucking company.
Crews said he considers the charge of filing a false report as the most appropriate considering the case's circumstances.
"Once again, we feel like given the threats that were made we feel like this is an appropriate charge.
"We can amend the charge after we reach court if we need to. I've talked with the district attorney's office and we're both in agreement."
Crews said he has studied the terrorism laws and feels they were written more toward cases where "weapons of mass destruction" were used rather than verbal or written threats not carried out.
The risk of having a case thrown out of court for an inappropriate charge is heavy, Crews said.