‘Life too short to be this unhappy.’ Report in alleged school shooting threat released

Orange County teacher for arrested for threatening to ‘shoot up school’

ABC11 reports that Orange County teacher Kristen Thompson has been arrested for communicating a threat of mass violence. Thompson was a teacher at Pathways Elementary School in Hillsborough, NC.
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ABC11 reports that Orange County teacher Kristen Thompson has been arrested for communicating a threat of mass violence. Thompson was a teacher at Pathways Elementary School in Hillsborough, NC.

Orange County Sheriff’s Office reports released Friday show an elementary school teacher became concerned about threats made against the school after the teacher who allegedly made the threats resigned.

Kristen Thompson left her job as a special-needs teacher at Pathways Elementary School in Hillsborough last week and was arrested Tuesday on a charge of “communicating a threat of mass violence,” according to an arrest warrant.

Thompson is accused of telling a total of four teachers on two occasions that she might shoot up the school. The first incident took place May 6, according to the warrant. The delay in alerting school administrators about the threats may have violated a district policy that requires school staff to immediately report any threats to school safety.

Thompson is scheduled to appear in court June 14.

Kristen Thompson.jpg
Kristen Thompson

The Sheriff’s Office report released Friday shows that someone calling from Pathways Elementary School first reported the threats to law enforcement around 3:30 p.m. Saturday, the day after Thompson resigned. The name of the caller was erased from the report.

Investigator T.R. Sykes said the caller told her to contact a Pathways teacher about a threat she had reported to school officials, according to the report. The teacher, who was interviewed later that afternoon, said she had received an email from Thompson about her resignation.

“The message stated that life was too short to be this unhappy,” Sykes wrote in the report.

The teacher told Sykes that the email reminded her of a conversation she and other teachers had with Thompson while eating lunch at the school in early May.

“While they were having lunch Kristen Thompson came in and stated that ‘If I send a message that says the squash is ripe, then get out cause I’m going to shoot the school up.’”

The teacher said she didn’t think anything about the conversation until Thompson resigned, Sykes wrote. The teacher also told the investigator that Thompson had talked about how unhappy she was at the school, but that she couldn’t afford to quit without a plan.

“According to [the teacher], when Thompson quit she felt that she was not thinking or acting rationally,” the report says. “Based on the entire event, [the teacher] felt that she needed to report this information.”

Sheriff’s Office Investigator A. Woodlief contacted Thompson about the allegations Saturday evening, the report states.

“Thompson denied the allegations and wanted to know who gave us the information,” the report states. The investigator told her she was not allowed to be on any school property, but Thompson was not arrested or charged that night.

The investigator did not arrest Thompson right away, because more time was needed to check out the allegations, Alicia Stemper, a spokeswoman for the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, said Friday.

In the meantime, Sheriff’s Office deputies were told to circle though the school grounds and stop by Pathways Elementary during the day on Monday. The Sheriff’s Office was asked to have deputies present through Thursday, Sykes said, because outdoor events were planned.

Thompson has been released on a $1,000 secured bond, with the conditions that she have no contact with any members of the school system except through an attorney, not trespass on any Orange County Schools property and not have a weapon. Spectrum News reported that Thompson told the judge she did not have a weapon.

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Tammy Grubb has written about Orange County’s politics, people and government since 2010. She is a UNC-Chapel Hill alumna and has lived and worked in the Triangle for over 25 years.