|On the afternoon of March 27, 2018 the Kingsport Police Department was alerted to alleged threats of violence made by Mark Steven Puckett. Officers were alerted to extremely alarming text messages that Mr. Puckett had sent to his ex-girlfriend in which, among other things, he admitted to killing and/or harming several animals, claimed to be a “clinically diagnosed psychopath,” and stated that he wanted to “shoot up” a class at his alma mater, Dobyns-Bennett High School.
Mr. Puckett also purportedly claimed to be “a monster” and allegedly expressed a desire to kill his parents and stab his younger sister and “watch her suffer.” Mr. Puckett also acknowledged an understanding that his extreme statements would elicit a law enforcement response. Mr. Puckett is a former student at Dobyns-Bennett High School, having just graduated in May 2017, and his ex-girlfriend is still a current student there.
After extensive further investigation by the K.P.D. Criminal Investigations Division to include a forensic analysis of Mr. Puckett’s cell phone, an interview with Mr. Puckett himself, and a consultation with the office of the District Attorney, he was charged with the maximum legal recourse of 1) Felony False Reporting (Class C Felony) and 2) Harassment.
He was subsequently booked into the Kingsport City Jail with a request submitted to the presiding judge that he be held overnight without bond. K.P.D. also submitted a request to the judge that a mandatory psychological evaluation be ordered prior to any possible eligibility for release.
The following morning at his arraignment, without the benefit of the requested mental evaluation, his bond was set at $50,000 by the presiding judge. His bond was promptly posted by his parents, and he has since been released from custody. His next court appearance is scheduled for April 5, 2018 at 1:00 PM in General Sessions Court.
The Kingsport City Schools were immediately notified of the initial threats and have been continuously updated regarding Mr. Puckett’s subsequent arrest and his eventual release from custody. All K.P.D. and K.C.S. personnel have been briefed on this situation.
While K.P.D. always tries to maintain a strong police presence, including multiple School Resource Officers, in Kingsport City Schools throughout the school year, in light of these recent threats, we are taking steps to increase that visibility by conducting additional school walk throughs and school zone patrols as often as possible.
The Kingsport Police Department and the Kingsport City Schools would like to stress, that we take any and all threats, especially those regarding violence in our schools, extremely seriously, and we have, and will continue to work together to expeditiously take all necessary steps and use all legal means at our disposal to ensure student safety.