Student writes of death by ants and AK-47 in ‘death notebook’

Families finally caught wind of the notebook after the student threatened to shoot the school up with a bow and arrow on Sept. 16.

After patiently waiting for further clarity from the school board, Trussville City Schools finally released a lengthy newsletter to provide parents with some closure regarding a recent security threat involving a student’s “death notebook.”

“We dodged a bullet. I truly mean that,” Trussville, Alabama, Mayor Buddy Choat said at a press conference Tuesday morning.

The statement was made in response to a notebook belonging to a student from Hewitt-Trussville High School. According to city officials, it contained the names of 37 Trussville students that allegedly he wanted to kill—thus its label, the “death notebook.”

Trussville Police Chief Eric Rush said the student got the idea for the notebook from a television show called Death Note. In the series, the main character kills his enemies by simply writing their names in a book.

Parents, understandably so, have been outraged over the school system’s lack of responsibility and communication. The school’s principal, Tim Salem, first discovered the notebook nearly a year ago but decided there was no immediate threat and placed it in a drawer.

“In hindsight, the SRO and central office administration should have been made aware of this book and TV series so the threat assessment protocol could be fully implemented,” Superintendent Pattie Neill said in a statement. “We understand that parents are concerned, we understand their disappointment and we are committed to improvement. School safety continues to be our first priority.”

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Kim DeShazo, vice president of the school board, breaks down the event in a message to TCS families. According to the statement, the student allegedly wanted to harm other students using “outlandish” methods, such as ants and an AK-47.

However, in an interview with the student, he said the notebook was created purely for fantasy as it was inspired by a television series.

Read a portion of the statement below:

“Here are the facts as I understand them: In October 2021, a teacher at Hewitt-Trussville High School found a notebook left behind by a student. The teacher discovered the book had names in it: some names were of other students and some names were not.

The notebook also contained ways in which these people were allegedly going to die. Many of those ways were outlandish: death by ants, for instance. However, one of those methods was by an AK-47. The teacher followed procedures and presented the notebook to one of the school counselors, who also followed procedures and presented it to Principal Salem. The counselor and Mr. Salem brought the student in and interviewed him.

During the interview, the student explained to Mr. Salem and the counselor that the notebook was based on a Japanese anime show called Death Notebook. The student claimed the notebook was pure fantasy and stated that some students had actually written their own names in the notebook.

The student went through the remainder of the 2021-2022 school year with no further incidents or disciplinary issues. On September 16, 2022, however, a counselor was informed this student had made verbal threats about shooting up the school with a bow and arrow. Within a few minutes of learning of this alleged threat, Mr. Salem informed the student resource officer and Trussville Police Department of the situation. He then informed authorities for the first time of the previous year’s incident involving the notebook.

The Trussville Police Department took it from there and conducted a home search, interviewed the student and his parents and began informing the parents of HTHS students whose names were included in the notebook. While it was determined that no criminal charges would be brought against this student, he has been placed in the alternative learning center.”

Micah Ward
Micah Ward
Micah Ward is a District Administration staff writer. He recently earned his master’s degree in Journalism at the University of Alabama. He spent his time during graduate school working on his master’s thesis. He’s also a self-taught guitarist who loves playing folk-style music.

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