Darian Atkinson had guns on his mind after the Parkland, Florida, school shooting on Valentine’s Day 2018, a Biloxi resident says.
Atkinson is charged with capital murder in the shooting death Sunday night of Biloxi police Patrolman Robert McKeithen.
James Crowell, head of the Biloxi NAACP, says his goddaughter was threatened by Atkinson last year when the two Biloxi High School students were talking about the Parkland shooting.
“He said, ‘I’m thinking about doing the same thing here and I’m going to start with you,’ ” Crowell recalled. He said that his goddaugther’s mother and grandmother reported the threat to Biloxi High School, but nothing happened until they demanded an investigation.
Biloxi school Superintendent Arthur McMillan did not return a call from the Sun Herald, but spokeswoman Jennifer Pyron emailed a statement that said privacy laws prevent release of student records.
She added: “But, we can assure you that when a threat is made to our schools, students or staff, that threat is thoroughly investigated, our discipline procedures are followed and the matter is referred to the proper authorities . . . We value the well-being of our students and staff above everything else, and we work continuously to ensure their safety.”
WXXV-TV reported shortly after the 2018 incident that Atkinson was suspended for three days. WXXV covered a news conference with Crowell and the mother of a student who was threatened about a planned protest at the school.
Parents were demanding they be notified of threats and that other measures be taken to put student safety first.
“Even back then, he was threatening people,” Crowell told the Sun Herald on Tuesday. “I guess he went ahead and did it this time rather than just talk about it.”
At Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, 14 students and three teachers died in the shooting.