A troubling incident at Warner Robins Middle School has led to the arrest of a social studies teacher, Benjamin Hilton Reese III, following his alleged threats to a student over a disagreement about an Israeli flag displayed in his classroom. Reese, 51, faces charges of terroristic threats and cruelty to children.
The incident unfolded in the school’s 7th-grade technical hallway on December 7, 2023, when a student confronted Reese about an Israeli flag in his classroom. The student, an eighth grader, expressed offense at the flag, citing the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. Reese, who revealed he was Jewish and had family in Israel, responded to the student’s comment, which he perceived as antisemitic.
Witnesses, including students and teachers, reported Reese’s heated reaction, with several of them overhearing him shout:
“You mother fucking piece of shit! I’ll kick your ass. I should cut your mother fucking head off.” He was also heard saying, “I will drag her ass into the parking lot, slit her fucking throat and kill her.”
These alarming statements led to Reese’s arrest on December 8.
According to the Houston County Sheriff’s Office, a faculty member reported hearing Reese rebuke the student for making an antisemitic comment, while the student responded negatively but did not yell back. The situation escalated as Reese followed the students down the hallway, continuing his tirade.
The incident was partly captured on a hallway video, which, although lacking audio, showed Reese yelling and re-entering his classroom. Following the incident, Reese reportedly became defensive when questioned by the school’s principal, Brett Wallace, and initially denied speaking to any students. He later acknowledged discussing the Israeli flag with the student, insisting he had not made any racist statements.
Reese’s bond was set at $2,500 for the terroristic threat charge and $5,000 for the charge of cruelty to children, and he has since bonded out. In response to the incident, Houston County Schools issued a statement, underscoring their adherence to the Code of Ethics for Educators and their priority for student and staff safety. The statement confirmed that Reese had not been on campus since the incident.
This incident has raised significant concerns in the community about the boundaries of discourse in educational settings and the responsibilities of educators in managing sensitive topics.