VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) – A Virginia Beach teacher has been placed on administrative leave after making statements that worried colleagues enough that they called police.
John Wesley Dupont teaches technology education at Corporate Landing Middle, according to the school’s website.
Court documents show he was arrested over the weekend after allegedly telling another faculty member “I’m gonna shoot up the school tomorrow, but I don’t have a gun.”
Police said Dupont initially admitted to making the statement, but then walked it back. He eventually told investigators he’d actually said he understood how school shooters feel.
Police received a second call from the school’s principal at the end of the day. According to the principal, Dupont was leaving the building and quipped to another faculty member “don’t worry, you are safe.”
The principal cut in, saying that everyone in the school was safe.
He said Dupont answered back: “That’s not what I said.”
Though this is the first known threat Dupont made against the school, it wasn’t the first set of troubling statements he had made. Faculty members told police he had alluded to dying by suicide in the past.
They said he also made statement along the lines of, “If I just pull the pin to [this] canister, the whole school will blow up,” and “It’s not the people outside you need to worry about, it’s the people inside, court documents show.
Dupont told police he didn’t own any guns and allowed them to search his vehicle and house. Even though they didn’t find anything, police still filed for an emergency substantial risk order – perhaps better known as a red flag order.
Virginia’s red flag law created a civil process for the court to confiscate a person’s firearms for a set amount of time, if they pose a danger to themselves or others.
Since the law’s creation, it’s been used hundreds of times by localities across the state. According to an analysis by WRIC, in its first two years of existence, Virginia Beach utilized red flag orders more than any other city, except Fairfax.
Dupont was also charged with assault and battery against a juvenile over the weekend. Both charges he faces are misdemeanors.
A change.org petition to place metal detectors in VB schools was launched shortly after the news of Dupont’s threats broke. A comment on the posting from its creator cites the threats.
“Thankfully the teachers and school principal took quick action and notified police,” it reads. “What if he had come into the school with a gun on Friday?”
School principal Robert Yoshida sent the following email to parents last Friday.
Sincerely, RV Yoshida, Principal, Corporate Landing Middle School
Dear Corporate Landing Middle School families,
We want to make you aware that a staff member was arrested by the Virginia Beach Police Department for disturbing the peace. As a result, this staff member has been placed on administrative leave. At this time we are not part of the criminal proceedings and do not have any additional information that can be shared.
Please be assured that we are committed to providing a safe and nurturing learning environment for our students. All staff are expected to adhere to the highest ethical practices and conduct in a manner aligned with our core values and we will not tolerate behaviors that compromise the safety of our students or staff. We appreciate your continued support of Corporate Landing Middle School.