SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - A Shreveport high school student was arrested last week after a heated exchange of words with a teacher during the school day.
Police said the arrest was made because Isaiah Heath, 18, threatened the teacher's life, but some students who witnessed the incident say that never happened.
On the morning of April 17, Heath allegedly made a death threat to a teacher during a verbal argument at Byrd High School. Heath was using profanity, but did not touch the teacher, police said.
The school's resource officer and security officer were called to assist. Heath was arrested and charged with criminal assault on a school teacher and disturbing the peace.
Students who witnessed the argument say it didn't happen exactly as police describe.
"He was shouting, at first he wasn't, but then it escalated and he got more mad," said Kendry Sneed who witnessed the heated argument in English class that landed Heath in jail.
"I've never seen him that angry, actually," said Austin Gomez, who was sitting next to Heath, his best friend, when the argument sparked.
"He said a cuss word kind of loud, she wanted to know who said it," said Gomez and explained Heath mouthed off, after admitting to saying the bad word.
"She said 'Shut up,' he said 'Shut up,' back to her," said Gomez.
And that is when the teacher called the front office for help.
"The office asked if there was a fight and she said there is about to be. That set him in his defensive mode," said Gomez, but he and other students in the class said he never threatened to kill the teacher or harm her.
"He was constantly saying, 'I want someone to come at me,' but it was more of a general statement. He never said anything directly towards her," said Gomez.
His classmates agree Heath wasn't right for losing his temper, but don't like the way it was handled.
"I feel like it was really unnecessary to put him in jail for something so little, something that is going to be on his record forever, that will affect him playing basketball and getting into college," said classmate Antoinette Van.
Gomez visited Heath in jail over the weekend and said the 18-year-old is trying to keep his spirits up, but wants to return to his normal life.
Gomez said Heath has spent five days at the Caddo Correctional Center since the incident because his family can't afford the $15,390 bond.
"I've been real worried about what's going to happen for his future," he said and explained he will attempt his own fundraising efforts to get his friend back into school.
Heath's first court appearance is in June. His family hopes they can bail him out before then so he can finish his classes and graduate on time.
Schools spokesman Victor Mainiero declined to comment on the specific situation because it involves a student. However, he did say in this particular situation, the school leaders followed the steps outlined in the board's policy handbook.
According to the that handbook, for middle and high school students, the following 10 infractions give the principal the option to press charges immediately, but only if evidence is present:
- Possessing weapons
- Battery of a teacher
- Group/Gang fighting
- Possessing drugs or alcohol
- Initiating false alarms and bomb threats
- Threatening a teacher or other school personnel
- Defacing, stealing or destroying school property
- Bullying, threatening or hazing students
- Possessing or using fireworks
- Using profanity toward a teacher or school personnel
The Caddo Parish School Board has not yet said what consequences Heath will face from them.