TREUTLEN COUNTY, Ga. — A Georgia high school football game has been canceled because of tensions and threats of violence between neighboring counties over a gang-related shooting this summer, WGXA reports.
Treutlen County High School in Soperton was set to play Johnson County High School in Wrightsville on Friday night. The two counties neighbor each other in east central Georgia, just southeast of Macon.
According to WGXA, a man from Johnson County was killed in a gang-related shooting over the summer.
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Harvey Harris Jr., 31, was killed at a party in Treutlen County on June 19. He was celebrating his birthday, which was four days after his death.
Harris lived in Johnson County.
Ahead of Friday night’s game, someone on social media threatened to “shoot up” anyone from Treutlen County traveling to Johnson County for the game.
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Treutlen County Superintendent Bradley Anderson said school officials believe tension building from Harris’ shooting death sparked various threats against the high school.
“To our knowledge and information available, the individual has not been apprehended and the threats remain active and we did not feel safe sending our players, coaches, parents and fans into a potentially dangerous situation,” Anderson told WGXA.
Anderson said Johnson County’s superintendent promised there would be a massive law enforcement presence at the game as well as members of a local gang task force. But officials told WGXA they still don’t feel comfortable playing the game.
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On Thursday, the district asked Johnson County to move the game to earlier in the day or to a different day. According to Anderson, the district refused to do either.
Johnson County Superintendent Eddie Morris said Treutlen County forfeited the game and that it had nothing to do with a shooting.
Morris issued a statement on Facebook, writing: “We had discussed this situation with our local law enforcement. We have a great working relationship with our Sheriff’s Department and Wrightsville Police Department. They assured me that everything was under control. This situation did not have anything to do with our school system or our students. This was a situation that happened in Treutlen County and did not involve anyone from our school.”
Morris said the district would consider the forfeit a win for Johnson County.
Harris’ mother, Vickie Arline, told WXGA she also believes the game’s cancellation had something to do with her son’s murder, which the sheriff’s office has given her little information about. It wasn’t until the news broke that the game was canceled that anyone from the Treutlen County Sheriff’s Office told Arline the shooting was gang related.
Arline told WXGA that her son was not in a gang. So far, no one has been arrested in his death.
Arline said she hopes the cancelation of the football game will make her son’s murder more of a priority for the county.
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