The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

February 26, 2013

Trial of alleged school gunman starts

By Jean Cole

— A rap song.

A racial slur.

And a father’s alleged rage over his son’s suspension may have prompted a terrorist threat and lockdown at Athens High School in 2010.

Those were some of the questions introduced Tuesday in Limestone County Circuit Court in the trial of Thomas Smoak. Smoak, 52, of Athens, is charged with making a terrorist threat and possessing a deadly weapon with intent to do bodily harm in a May 25, 2010, incident at the school.

Five school officials testified Tuesday afternoon as witnesses for the prosecution, including school secretary Peggy Sutton, Principal Chris Bolen, assistant principals Gia Russell and Mike O’Rear, and social studies teacher J.B. Hutchison. Each said the school went into lockdown at Bolen’s direction that day.