By Randy Arrington
LURAY, Jan. 21 — Just over 24 hours after telling the Page County School Board that she was going to “bring every single gun loaded and ready” if her children had to continue wearing masks in school, a parent has now been charged for making threatening statements on school property.
Around 6 p.m. on Friday, Amelia Ruffner King, 42, of Luray, was charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor under 18.2-60 of the Virginia State Code for “threats of death or bodily injury to a person or member of his family; threats to commit serious bodily harm to persons on school property,” according to a post on the Luray Police Department Facebook page.
More specifically, King was charged under Subsection B of that code which includes “any person who orally makes a threat to any employee of any elementary, middle or secondary school, while on a school bus, on school property or at a school-sponsored activity, to kill or do bodily injury to such person…”
King was released on Friday evening by the magistrate on a $5,000 unsecured bond.
As one of four speakers to address the school board during Thursday night’s special meeting on “health and mitigation strategies,” King applauded Governor Glenn Youngkin’s Executive Order #02, which goes into effect on Monday. The order strips away a previous mandate for masking in Virginia’s public schools and puts the decision back in the hands of parents.
While the Page County School Board agreed and voted, 4-2, to immediately shift from universal masking used throughout the COVID-19 pandemic to a “parent choice” option, King spoke before the vote and insinuated that she would stand for nothing less.
“No mask mandates. My children will not come to school on Monday with a mask on, alright. That’s not happening. And I will bring every single gun loaded and ready,” King continued as she was cut-off a second time by the chairman for exceeding the three-minute time limit during citizen comment period.
Then as she left the room, King stated: “I’ll see ya’ll on Monday.”
On Thursday night, KIng noted how her last appearance before the school board ended with a deputy calling for back-up to make an arrest when she refused to quit speaking after her three-minute time limit had expired and she was repeatedly told to stop by the chairman.
Before Thursday night’s meeting was over, King emailed both the Page County School Board and the Page County Sheriff’s Office to explain her comments and “apologize for the way I phrased the statement.” Dr. Amy Painter, school board representative from District 3, read a message to the school board that she received from King during the meeting.
“I in no way want to imply ‘all guns loaded’ as in actual firearms, but rather all resources I can muster to make sure my kids get to attend school without masks. My sincere apologies for my poor choice in words,” read Dr. Painter before continuing to a second reply she received from King. “I’m absolutely mortified. I would never do such a thing. I was only speaking figuratively, as in alerting the media and creating a social media stir.”
The event has gone viral on the internet and has included coverage from most major news networks and some international media. The livestream of the Jan. 20 school board meeting had nearly 400 live viewers — but as of 10 p.m. on Friday, the meeting had been viewed nearly 24,000 times.
King works as a dental hygienist at Ruffner Family Dentistry in Luray. Her husband previously owned a gun shop called Tactical Speed in the East Luray Shopping Center, which closed about a year ago. Photos of King and her family holding assault rifles have been shared across social media thousands of times over the last 24 hours.
The school system took King’s words seriously and requested more security at all county schools earlier today and for Monday. School Board Chair Megan Gordon and Superintendent Antonia Fox issued a letter to the community this morning.
“Last night at our School Board meeting during the Citizen Comment period there were comments made that referenced weapons and were perceived by many to be threatening in nature. Page County Public Schools does not take these kind of statements lightly,” reads a statement released Friday morning. “Not only do comments such as these go against everything that we wish to model for our students, they go against the very nature of how we as a community should interact with each other. Violence or threats are never acceptable or appropriate. This kind of behavior is not tolerated from our students, faculty, staff, nor will it be tolerated by parents or guests of our school division.”
While “opt-out forms” will soon be distributed to Page County students, staff members will still be required to wear masks while inside all school buildings under the Virginia Department of Labor’s mandate to follow CDC guidelines — which calls for masking in indoor settings. Students will also still be required to wear masks while riding the bus under mandates regarding public transportation.
For the latest COVID information and updates related to Page County Public Schools, check out their website.