A Georgia middle school teacher was arrested after allegedly threatening to cut off the head of a Muslim student who confronted him about an Israeli flag in his classroom.
Benjamin Reese, 51, a seventh-grade social studies teacher at Warner Robbins Middle School, was arrested on Dec. 8 on charges of making terroristic threats and cruelty to children, jail records show. He was released on bond two days later, but bond conditions require him to stay away from the school and the student he is accused of threatening.
A girl approached Reese in a hallway and told him she found the Israeli flag in his classroom offensive because Israelis were killing Palestinians, according to an incident report. The student said Reese told her he was Jewish and has relatives in Israel, accused her of being antisemitic and began screaming threats toward her.
Several witnesses reported hearing Reese scream threats, including one where he said he would cut the girl’s head off.
“You motherf—ing piece of s—t! I’ll kick your a–! I should cut your motherf—ing head off!” he reportedly screamed.
Some students said they also heard Reese saying he would “slit her goddamn throat and drag her a– outside and cut her head off.”
A faculty member heard Reese saying, “You don’t make an antisemitic comment like that to a Jew.” The student responded negatively to his comments, but she did not shout, according to the report.
When a deputy asked Reese if he threatened any students, he denied the allegations, the report said. He said he told a student who was offended by the flag that she was being antisemitic but denied saying anything racist to her.
Reese then said he had nothing further to say and “invoked his civil rights,” according to the report.
Surveillance video showed Reese shouting before walking back to his classroom, but the video did not have audio, WMAZ reported.
A spokesperson for the Houston County School District said in a statement to WMAZ that employees are required to follow the Code of Ethics for Educators.
“If there is a violation or accusation of a violation, we investigate and respond appropriately. While we are not able to discuss specific personnel matters, we can share that Mr. Reese has not been on the campus of Warner Robins Middle School since Dec. 7, 2023,” the statement read.
The incident between Reese and the student comes amid heightened tensions around the world over the war in the Middle East between Israeli forces and Hamas terrorists. There have been numerous antisemitic and Islamophobic incidents reported since Hamas launched its attack against Israel on Oct. 7.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.