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Juvenile arrested, charged after allegedly making a social media threat

Staff Written News

By Patrick Yost

editor

A 14-year-old male freshman at Morgan County High School was detained and will be charged with terroristic threats and disrupting public schools after he allegedly threatened to shoot people at the school on social media.

According to Chief Deputy Keith Howard, Morgan County Sheriff’s Office, the student allegedly posted on another student’s YouTube channel the message “I’m shooting up your school on Monday tell the principal or everyone is dead.”

Another student saw the message on the YouTube channel and informed his parents. The parents contacted the school Monday morning. The message, Howard said, was posted on Sunday. 

After the school was made aware of the threat, school employees and law enforcement officers went on heightened alert. “When the school made us aware of it the school and school resource officer took steps to be more vigilant. They monitored their surrounding more.”

The school was not, however, put on “lockdown” as happened during a threat in March, 2018. Howard said the decision to not put the school on lockdown was based, on part, on the speed by which the FBI identified the location of the computer used to make the threat and the fact that the new high school is a more secure building than the old school building.

Howard said Monday several students who could have access to the residential computer were gathered and interviewed and the 14-year-old allegedly confessed to authorities that he had made the threat. 

The teen was searched but no weapons were found. “There was never any indication there was going to be a credible threat as we were investigating it,” Howard said.

Morgan County Sheriff Robert Markley said the sheriff’s office took the threat seriously. “At this point in time i our society we cannot ignore threats of violence. The Morgan County Sheriff’s Office take threats seriously and are committed to the safety of our schools.”

Morgan County Charter Schools Superintendent Dr. James Woodard issued a statement via email and said, in part, “Law enforcement and school officials addressed the comment and a comfort level was established that there was no credibility to the context of the comment. Steps were taken to secure the school without the need of going on a lockdown.”

Woodard also reminded parents to “Always monitor what your kids are doing on all devices online while building trust” and to “Always have ongoing open conversation with your kids about what they are seeing and doing online.”

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