Lowndes County , GA - January 12, 2013
Press Release: Lowndes County Sheriff's Office
The following has been released by Sheriff Chris Prine;
Investigators are continuing the investigation into the death of Lowndes High School student Kendrick L. Johnson.
The exact cause of death is not yet known but investigators have continued to interview persons and examine evidence collected from the scene. An autopsy will be conducted on Monday by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Medical Examiner’s Office to attempt to determine an exact cause of death.
At the time of his death, Kendrick Johnson was seventeen years old and a resident of Valdosta.
Lowndes County, GA - At the young age of sixteen years old, Bryant Thagard witnessed something most people hope to never experience. He was among several students who found a classmate dead in the Lowndes High School's old gymnasium.
"First block went by, second block came by and that's when the tragedy happened," he said.
He says it was around 10:30 a.m. when his friend went to play with wrestling mats in the gym. That's when he says his friend saw the body of a male sophomore student.
"She thought somebody was hiding at first...and my other friend and a couple other people got up on the mats and figured out it was a body."
When the body was discovered, the entire school was put on lock down. Thagard says, he along with the other students who found the sophomore, were held for hours as investigators questioned them about what they saw.
"Were all going through this and we'll get through it," Thagard said.
This incident has shocked the entire community.
"I received a text message and when I first got it I thought it was some kind of joke or hoax," said Katina Petroff, mother of a Lowndes High School student.
"From the friends that I know, he was a football player and the football team had just lost another player earlier this year," said Alexis Everitt, a senior at LCS.
The sheriff's office and Lowndes County Schools said nothing has been discovered to indicate foul play was involved and in consideration of the family they are not releasing the name of the student at this time.
"I'm not sure if it's hit me yet," Thagard said.
it was a difficult thing for him to experience, but says he's doing okay.
Classes remained in session at the school after the lock down was lifted. An autopsy will be conducted on the student Monday to determine the cause of death.
Lowndes County Sheriff’s Department and the Lowndes County Schools Release
Valdosta, GA - “We are deeply saddened that the body of a Lowndes High student was discovered today on the LHS campus,” said Superintendent Wes Taylor. “Our hearts are burdened for the family, friends, students, staff, and our community.”
The Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office and emergency medical personnel were immediately called to the scene.
Under the supervision of Sheriff Chris Prine, the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office is leading the investigation with the assistance of the GBI. The investigative team remained on the scene for several hours collecting evidence and interviewing witnesses.
Although the exact cause of death is yet to be determined, as of this stage of the investigation, nothing has been discovered to indicate foul play was involved, according to Sheriff Prine. An autopsy will be conducted on Monday by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation medical examiner’s office to attempt to determine an exact cause of death.
“We are confident that the campus of Lowndes High School is safe for the return of students on Monday,” said Sheriff Prine.
The Lowndes County Schools—in cooperation with the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office and in consideration of the family—will not be releasing the name of the deceased at this time.
Valdosta, GA - A Lowndes County High School student was found dead this morning inside the school.
The school was put on lockdown for a portion of the day but students remained in class. The lockdown was lifted later this afternoon for students to go home.
Students we spoke with say the victim was a sophomore on the football team. School officials found the boy in the old gym.
Law enforcement officers have not ruled out homicide as the cause of death.
Parents and students WCTV spoke with are shocked.
Officials aren't releasing the name yet but did confirm the student was dead when they found him.
WCTV will have an update on Eyewitness News at 5:30.
Statement from Lowndes County Schools
The Lowndes County Schools regrets that one of our students from Lowndes High School is deceased.
The appropriate authorities are investigating.
We will release further information as it is confirmed.
Classes are continuing at Lowndes High, and all schools will dismiss at their regular times today.
No schools are under lockdown.
The Lowndes County Sheriff's Office confirms that a body was found at Lowndes High School.
They are currently investigating the case and have not ruled out homicide.
We have reporters working to bring you more information as it becomes available; stay with WCTV for the latest updates.