UPDATE — Dec. 5, 2018:
We now have more information on the motive behind Robert Cameron Dalton’s arson attempt at Whitwell High School last weekend.
Family members of Dalton have come forth in recent days to say that 18-year-old Dalton was bullied in middle and high school.
Dalton’s mother told investigators that this school year would’ve been his senior year at the school, but Dalton’s mother decided to homeschool her son due to bullying.
Dr. Mark Griffith, Director of Schools in Marion County, says he takes these accusations very seriously and has asked that school administration in Whitwell look deeper into the matter for any possible documentation of the alleged bullying for review.
Griffith says the matter is still under review, but so far administrators have found no statements of documentation where any bullying was reported, but says his staff will continue to look into the matter. In the meantime, he has asked the courts to forbid Dalton from visiting any school property in the county.
Dalton’s mother has made a public Facebook post stating, “My Cameron is a sweet loving hard working young man who would give a shirt off his back. None of us know what happened or why he did this but none of his family deserve to see the negative comments that are being made.”
In another post she says, “I accept I can’t stop the talk no matter how bad it hurts me to hear it. My son is not a monster nor am I a bad parent. He made a bad choice. All I ask is see how you’d feel if this were your child.” She continues by asking that people please remember her other two younger children are innocent and don’t deserve the backlash they’ve received by some.
Dr. Griffith says while everyone awaits a ruling, he has encouraged his staff to talk more openly about bullying with students in an effort to prevent incidents like this one by educating the students as well as teachers and other staff about bullying.
Dalton remains in at the Marion County Jail at this time. His charges are arson and burglary.
Previous Story — Dec. 3, 2018:
The suspect wanted for starting a fire at Whitwell High School over the weekend has been arrested.
Marion County Sheriff Ronnie “Bo” Burnett says through video surveillance and evidence recovered at the scene, investigators were able to link the arson attempt to 18-year-old Robert Cameron Dalton of Whitwell.
Burnett says Dalton was arrested on Monday after a search warrant was issued and other clues linked him to the fire.
At the press conference on Monday afternoon, investigators confirmed that Dalton was a former student of the school; however, they would not elaborate on any possible motives at this time, stating that more would come to light as the matter went to court. The Sheriff said this was Dalton’s first run-in with local law enforcement.
Dalton has been charged with arson and burglary and is being held at the Marion County Jail at this time. No bond has been set at this time.
We will bring you more information as it becomes available. Stay with MarionCountyMessenger.com for the latest updates on this developing story.