Alabama student’s ‘death notebook’ kept secret from police for nearly a year, mayor says

Published 5:29 pm Tuesday, September 27, 2022

A high school principal failed to tell police about a student’s “death notebook” that was found last year and disclosed earlier this month only after the same student threatened to shoot a classmate, the mayor said Tuesday.

While prosecutors declined to file any charges, Trussville Mayor Buddy Choat told a news conference a “total lack of communication” had led to a situation that rattled some parents.

“There is no reason for this not to have been reported other than a mistake in judgment,” he said.

Police began an investigation earlier this month after a student at Hewitt-Trussville High School threatened to shoot someone with a bow and arrow, officials said. During the probe, police learned the same student had compiled a “death notebook” that was based on a television show and contained the names of about three dozen students to harm.

Rather than reporting the list to police or school superiors when it was found last October, the principal placed the notebook in a drawer and kept it, Choat said, providing it to police after the alleged threat this month.

Police went to the student’s home and found a gun that belonged to the youth’s father, the mayor said, but the youth wasn’t found with any weapons.

While Choat said the city, located in suburban Birmingham, “dodged a bullet,” Superintendent Pattie Neill said the notebook with the list was a “fantasy” that didn’t warrant prosecution under state law.

No disciplinary action was announced against the principal, who Neill said handled the threat this month correctly.