Five arrested at Tallassee High on gang charges

TALLASSEE, AL (WSFA) - Four days after concerned parents contacted WSFA 12 News about threats at Tallassee High School, five juveniles are facing gang violence charges.

Answers are slowing coming out in the city of Tallassee, bits of information that confirm the fear reported by students inside Tallassee High.

"Not that I'm aware of," said Tallassee City Attorney Michael Harper when asked if there had been an incident that could have compromised the safety of students. "We've received certain allegations that were investigated by the police department. They are being handled by the juvenile court..." he said.

Public records show five juveniles arrested by the Tallassee school resource officer and charged with compelling street gang membership. That means the five students are accused of strong-arming others to join a street gang.

Four of the students were arrested last Thursday morning; the fifth was taken into custody Monday.

The outcry for justice comes from parents who have students enrolled at the school. They declined to be interviewed on camera out of fear for their families.

Parents say the accused students pressured their children to join a gang and posed threats against them. When WSFA 12 News asked parents for more details, they chose not to tell us out of fear of retaliation.

Elmore County School James Jeffers wouldn't confirm or deny an investigation is taking place, but a credible source did confirm a school system investigation.

WSFA 12 News found the Tallassee mayor, police chief and city attorney coming out of a meeting Tuesday. "We're going to have the information you are entitled to ready shortly," Harper said. Police reports confirming the arrests and charges were sent to WSFA 12 News late Tuesday afternoon.

Parents of some of the threatened students were able shed some of their fear, but say the unknown future of the accused juveniles is still a threat.

Reporter: Can you speak to the fact that children are safe at Tallassee High School?"

Elmore County District Attorney Randall Houston says a compelling street gang membership charge is a Class C Felony for adults. However, the punishment for the juveniles will be outlined by the juvenile court system.