By Randy Arrington
LURAY, June 16 — In an effort to put the case before the sitting judge, a substitute judge in Page County General District Court on Thursday continued the case against Amelia Ruffner King for verbally threatening members of the Page County School Board until Thursday, June 30.
As one of four speakers to address the local school board at its Jan. 20 special meeting on “health and mitigation strategies,” King applauded Governor Glenn Youngkin’s Executive Order #02, which went into effect four days later. The order stripped away a previous mandate for masking in Virginia’s public schools and put the decision back in the hands of parents.
While the school board agreed with Youngkin’s executive order and voted, 4-2, in January 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. All right? 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.”
The day after she made those comments, King, 42, was arrested around 6 p.m. by the Luray Police Department and 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 LPD 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 by the magistrate the same evening as her arrest on a $5,000 unsecured bond. As part of her release, King is not allowed to possess firearms and must stay off all school property.
Attorney Gene Hart represented King during her arraignment in February, when the June 16 trial date was set, and again on Thursday when the “oral threat” charge was continued to the end of the month and a traffic violation was challenged by King.
Hart requested to strike a charge of “vehicle improperly stopped on highway.” King received a citation on March 1 from Trooper J.B. Good when she parked her car in the “right-hand turn lane” of Leaksville Road at the entrance to Luray High School. Trooper Good testified that when he approached the vehicle, King said she was “waiting on her daughter to get out of school…and she was not allowed on school property.”
Hart questioned the deputy on Thursday and confirmed that no vehicles were put in immediate danger due to King’s parking in the turn lane and there was still room for cars to enter LHS. He also implied through furthering questioning of the trooper that King “spoke to deputies the day before about this issue.”
The judge granted Hart’s motion to strike and affectively dismissed the charge, agreeing that there was “no hazzard” and “no dangerous scenario.”
During the March 1 incident, King was also charged with failure to carry or exhibit her vehicle registration. The hearing was waived for that violation, and it was paid off on April 4 at a total cost of $66.
As a Class 1 misdemeanor, the “oral threat” charge could lead to a maximum of up to 12 months in jail and/or a $2,500 fine. King’s comments have spurred interest and reports from both national and international media. Portions of the livestream from the school board’s Jan. 20 meeting have been viewed nearly 150,000 times on various online sites.
Prior to the Jan. 20 incident, King had been pulled out of a previous school board meeting for exceeding the three-minute time limit and refusing to stop speaking after repeated requests from the chairman. However, in less than an hour after making the statements that have now been featured in headlines across the world wide web, King realized the gravity of her words and emailed both school board members 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 at the end of the Jan. 20 meeting 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.”
King’s husband previously owned a gun shop called Tactical Speed in the East Luray Shopping Center, which closed more than a year ago. Photos of King and her family holding assault rifles have been shared across social media thousands of times.
The school system took King’s words seriously and requested more security at all county schools for several days following the incident. School Board Chair Megan Gordon and Superintendent Antonia Fox issued a letter to the community the following 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 the statement released Jan. 21. “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.”