Juvenile suspect has no known ties to the area nor the school
olice say a youth who was 12-years-old at the time of the incident has confessed to committing what authorities describe as a hate crime during a Zoom call involving some students and the then-new principal at Platte County R-3 High School in Platte City.
The young suspect “lives in another state and has no known ties to the Platte City area nor the Platte County R-3 School District,” says Platte City Police Chief Joe Wellington.
The incident occurred on May 13, 2020 during a Zoom call involving several students and Dr. Keith Jones, who had been recently hired as the new principal at the Platte County R-3 High School. Jones is African-American.
The Zoom call was interrupted by an unknown person or persons who made threats toward the principal.
“Those threats were racial in nature and threatened physical harm to him,” Wellington said.
An investigation was begun, and Wellington said the assistance of the FBI was also requested “as it was an obvious hate crime.”
That suspect was recently interviewed “and gave a complete confession,” the police chief said this week.
Because of the juvenile status of the suspect, no further information can be given, Wellington said.
“Juvenile charges will be sought in his home state,” the chief explained.
Reached for comment on Wednesday afternoon, Jones told The Landmark: “I appreciate the partnership with the FBI and we worked hard to put some closure to this case. I’m just committed to making sure that our kids know that we accept everybody. We’re going to continue with our diversity and inclusion work with the district and within our school. That’s our focus and that’s my focus.”
School officials said the new principal was hosting a video conference to introduce himself to current 8th-11th grade students at the time of the incident. Jones continued the meeting and then brought the incident to the attention of school district leaders, Dr. Mike Reik, superintendent of Platte County R-3 School District, said at the time.
“I will not let a few negative comments deter me from staying focused on what we will do at PCHS. I’m very excited to be a Pirate, and I can’t wait to meet our students in person. I promise to provide a safe and inclusive environment where we support all kids,” Jones said shortly after the incident.
The night of the incident, Reik, the R-3 superintendent, commented:
“I am saddened by the hatred that was directed at Dr. Jones, and apologize to our students and families who witnessed this incident. I am sorry that this act will take away from what was otherwise a very positive introduction, yet I am confident that Dr. Jones can handle adversity and will use this to help grow and improve Platte County High School. I commend Dr. Jones’ professionalism in continuing his meeting with his new students, and bringing this incident to our attention.”