ICC violence threats result in arrest

Published 11:21 am Thursday, November 2, 2023

When a caller to Isothermal Community College threatened violence in two separate phone calls that prompted the college to cancel a major community event, the wheels of justice were set in motion.

After investigating, the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Department announced this week that Danielle P. Gossett, 38, of Marion in McDowell County had been arrested and charged with three felonies, including threatening an act of mass violence related to the school’s planned “Paint The Campus Blue,” a day of fun and games on the campus for the community. Blue is the official color for the school, which primarily serves Polk and Rutherford counties.

Gossett was released on bond and awaits a trial.

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Investigators in the sheriff’s office moved quickly to track down the caller while the community wondered what the motive might be. Although there was some speculation in the community that the caller was somehow connecting the “Blue” to Democrats and thought there was a political motive, that was not the case. However, no one in the sheriff’s office or the District Attorney’s office would talk about the motive for the two calls apparently made from a cell phone purchased by Gossett.

The case is complicated by the fact that Gossett’s juvenile son also was implicated. His identity is being withheld because of his age, but the sheriff’s office said it plans to submit a complaint to the juvenile court seeking charges against him related to the incident.

Beyond that, investigators appear to have done a good job, but they aren’t providing any other details until the case comes to trial.

Gossett has hired an attorney and she isn’t likely to talk to the press, but that hasn’t stopped a close friend of hers from talking.

Savannah S. Tedesco, 32, of Marion, said Gossett told her that her teenage son made the calls because he was angry that his mother wasn’t allowing him to go on a school trip to Washington.

“I think she was supposed to be volunteering at the (ICC) festival that was happening. He didn’t want her to go and he wanted to ruin it for her. He wanted to punish her for not letting him go on the trip. So he used his phone that she bought for him and called the school,” Tedesco said.

Tedesco said Gossett told her that the teen said in his call to ICC that he “heard that somebody was talking about shooting up the school and to stop the festival.”

Tedesco, who operates a business in Marion and is a local beekeeper, said when the teen made the phone call his mother was “up the street at the church volunteering as she always does.”

She said Gossett lost her job when she was arrested.

She described Gossett as a caring person who does volunteer work in her community, including work for Partnership for Children of the Foothills, which serves McDowell, Polk and Rutherford counties providing programs for children ages 0-5 and their families in the areas of child care, education and family support.

“Everything she does every day is to help other people,” Tedesco said. “She volunteers for the Dolly Parton Imagination Library for our county, with BEAR (baby equipment and resources) to help families and babies. She also helps spread information for the animal shelter. If you told her you need help, she would be the first person to sign up.”

Still, the phone call threats were made from her phone, and the judicial system is now charged with sorting out the details.

Larry McDermott is a local retired farmer/journalist. Reach him at hardscrabblehollow@gmail.com