Students arrested for school threats

Published 4:38 pm Thursday, February 22, 2018

Three local students were arrested after allegedly making threats against their schools. Overnight, one student in Lawrence County and one in Scioto County were arrested. Later on Thursday, a Dawson-Bryant middle school student was arrested. And on Thursday afternoon, Chesapeake schools were put on lockdown after a threat was made.

  • Lawrence County Sheriff Jeff Lawless said that around 8 p.m. on Wednesday there was a social media threat made about a specific threat against Rock Hill schools.

The threat was made on Snapchat with a person saying that they were planning on “shooting up Rock Hill… y’all better share this if y’all want to live. Going to the gym first thing in the morning and fleeing.”

The sheriff’s office began an immediate investigation and contacted the website in question, which assisted in tracking down where the threat came from.

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Detectives traveled to several different homes and conducted interviews to find out who wrote the threat. In the early hours of Thursday, detectives got the location of the Internet provider address where the message originated.

Just after 2 a.m., a female juvenile, who is a Rock Hill student, was interviewed. She admitted her involvement in the threatening message. She was arrested and housed in the Lawrence County Juvenile Center.

Lawrence County Juvenile prosecutor Phillip Heald wasn’t releasing many details on charges because of the age of the offender. He did emphasis that all threats of this nature are taken seriously.

“The message needs to get out to these kids that it is never a joke. It is never ‘I was kidding’ kind of situation,” he said. “It will always be taken seriously, all the way to the court. We are not going to put up with it.”

Lawless also emphasized the same point.

“We take all these threats seriously, and will do our best to arrest anyone who threatens our children and our schools,” he said.

  • Chesapeake schools were placed in lockdown Thursday afternoon after officials said a threat was made at the high school.

    Superintendent Jerry McConnell said, at about 1:30 p.m., a female student discovered a threat, written in the girls’ restroom and reported it to the principal.

    “He felt the threat needed to be considered and dealt with,” McConnell said.

    He said the sheriff’s office was called and deputies and a detective arrived, as well as a Chesapeake police officer.

    Classrooms were locked and students and staff remained inside, with windows blocked. He said law enforcement checked out the school and, once the lockdown was over, stayed as students boarded buses.

    “I really want to praise the students, faculty and administrators,” McConnell said. “They followed the procedures perfectly. And the sheriff’s office was more than willing to help and sent several deputies.”

    McConnell said the matter is being fully investigated and, if the identity of the person who wrote the message is discovered, “they will be prosecuted” to the full extent of the law.

  • Dawson-Bryant schools had a separate threat made Thursday, also on Snapchat.

Superintendent Steve Easterling said the threat was not related to the Rock Hill schools threat.

He said a male Dawson-Bryant Middle School student made a threat against the school, the prinicipal investigated it and then the law enforcement was called.

“The student was arrested and taken to the Lawrence County Juvenile Detention Center,” Easterling said. He said he didn’t know what charges would be filed against the student and he did face school disclipine as well.

“We take any type of threat very seriously,” Easterling said. “We put the message on Facebook and sent a phone message to parents. I thought the parents should know. We are trying to be very transparent about it when unfortunate things happen.”

Dawson-Bryant schools continued to have classes.

  • But three other schools cancelled classes on Thursday. Rock Hill school board member Paul Knipp posted on Facebook that school was canceled “out of an abundance of caution.”

Collins Career Technical Center was closed on Thursday, posting on Twitter it was “due to security concerns from a threat made against the school.” Symmes Valley schools were also closed and sent out an automated call that “This proactive measure is being taken to allow law enforcement time to fully investigate threats made on social media toward some area schools including Symmes Valley.”

  • In Scioto County, the sheriff’s office and the Portsmouth Police Department received numerous calls from parents afraid to send their children to school after a Snapchat account under the name “Brie Savage” posted threats against New Boston, Clay, Portsmouth, West and Waverly schools that students needed to “watch out tomorrow February 22 I’m coming for everyone who ever messed with me and anyone who gets in my way was getting shot up too.”

Scioto County Sheriff’s Captain John Murphy said the Portsmouth Police Department, Pike County Sheriff’s Office and New Boston Police Department began working on the threats around 7 p.m. on Wednesday. The account was traced back to an address on Ohio 23 in Portsmouth. Around 1:40 a.m., detectives from the Scioto County Sheriff’s Office and the Portsmouth Police went to the location and detained two juveniles.

A 16-year-old male was arrested for running away from a foster home, but he was not involved in the social media threats.

The Snapchat was traced to the phone of 15-year-old girl and she was arrested on five counts of inducing panic, a fifth-degree felony, for each school that was threatened, and one count of making terroristic threats, a third-degree felony. Both juveniles were to appear in juvenile court on Thursday.

  • Because of the threats against the schools, the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) cyber crimes and criminal intelligence analysts helped both counties investigate.

“We all take the safety of our students very seriously. Through the quick work of our cyber analysts, we were able to get critical information to local law enforcement that helped them make an arrest, and avoid a potentially terrible situation,” said Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine. “I want to take this opportunity to remind law enforcement across Ohio that BCI is available 24/7 to help with cases like this when requested by local law enforcement.”