By Jessie Williams
Two suspects accused of breaking into a Macon County school and stealing an AR-15 have surrendered to authorities.
According to Macon County Sheriff Mark Gammons, 19-year-old Adam Cisneros of RBS turned himself in at the Macon County Sheriff’s Office on Thursday, August 8, and 18-year-old Lee Parker Clark surrendered to authorities on Friday, August 9.
Both men are said to be former students of the school.
Sheriff Gammons said he was notified of the burglary at Red Boiling Springs School on the morning of August 8 by the RBS Department, and he and his officers began assisting in the investigation.
“At that time, Macon County school officials went through the proper safety channels to lockdown the school during the course of the investigation,” Sheriff Gammons stated.
Through their investigation, officers learned that the break-in occurred at approximately 10:26 p.m., at which time two individuals broke into the school through a door, entered the school’s Student Resource Officer’s office and gained entry into a gun safe.
The men were able to acquire the AR-15 and two bulletproof vests inside the safe.
While there are cameras located inside the school, Sheriff Gammons explained that none of the cameras were pointed in the direction of the safe, therefore authorities are unsure how the suspects were able to open it.
As the investigation continued, the two individuals responsible were identified as Cisneros and Clark, and it was learned that one of the men - Mr. Cisneros - was employed at a business in Lebanon, TN.
“After learning this information, we contacted the Wilson County Sheriff’s Department to attempt to locate the suspect,” said Sheriff Gammons. “We found that he had been terminated for anger issues, and we worked with Wilson County authorities to make sure the factory was safe. I also contacted the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and the Tennessee Fusion Center, which is part of Homeland Security.”
A Tennessee Highway Patrol helicopter and a state trooper Lenco armored vehicle were utilized during the investigation after officers believed they found a vehicle belonging to one of the suspects.
Clay County authorities were notified that one of the suspects could possibly be in their jurisdiction, and Sheriff Gammons noted that Governor Bill Lee sent state man power to Macon County to assist the sheriff’s department and RBS Police.
At approximately 5:45 p.m., Mr. Cisneros turned himself in and was charged with burglary, theft of property and vandalism.
The investigation continued throughout the night and a search warrant was issued for the residence of Mr. Clark on Celina Road.
At approximately 9:30 p.m. that night, officers discovered the stolen firearm and both armored vests concealed in the backyard.
The following afternoon Mr. Clark surrendered to authorities.
He was also charged with burglary, theft of property and vandalism.
Both men were issued a bond of $11,000, and are scheduled to appear in general sessions court on Aug. 14.
“I would like to thank all of the agencies involved for their assistance,” the sheriff stated. “I know there have been many concerns in the community about why there are firearms locked in safes inside the schools. Let me say this - I hope we never have to face a school shooting or disaster. I pray every day for that. But having a weapon locked in a safe on site is the most efficient way for our SRO’s to protect our children in that type of situation. If it’s kept in their car, it’s not secure and is too far away from an officer in the event he or she needs it. If an officer carries a weapon like this visibly on them inside the school, it will only promote fear and intimidation.”
The sheriff says he is thankful for the tools his department has available to protect students, but is also aware that Macon County needs more - especially with the growing number of students.
“I have to brag on our SRO’s, the school system and our board of education for giving us every opportunity to protect our kids” he said. “I’m thankful we had the cameras that we did, but we need more. We need funding and/or grants for more cameras, alarms and other security measures that other schools around us are implementing.”
This investigation is ongoing and anyone with further information is urged to contact the Macon County Sheriff’s Office. Callers may choose to remain anonymous.