The Pierce County Prosecutor’s Office charged three juveniles, 12, 15, and 17 years old, on Feb. 26 with felony harassment for making threats against their schools.
“Any threat to the safety of our children must be taken seriously,” said Prosecutor Mark Lindquist. “This is especially true in the current environment because shootings sometimes occur in clusters.”
On Feb. 23, police responded to report of threats made by a 17-year-old student to shoot up Spanaway Lake High School. Police contacted the student who called 911. He reported that he was on the school bus when the 17-year-old respondent allegedly said, “You might not want to come to school on Monday, because I am going to shoot up the school.”
The respondent denied making threats, but police reviewed surveillance video and he can be heard talking about shooting up the school.
In a second, separate case on Feb. 24, Tacoma Police were called to investigate a series of threats against students at Lincoln High School that had been posted on Snapchat. One post showed the respondent, 15, with a gun. Another post consisted of a photograph of the respondent with text over it saying, “If I am a school shooter I’ll go after the people I hate and then go rampaging.”
A concerned parent later shared the Snapchat posts on Facebook wanting to ensure that the school and local community were aware of the respondent’s threats. The following day, Tacoma Police officers were able to locate the respondent and place him in custody. The respondent told police that he had been depressed the day he made the posts and that he was responding to some threats he had received at school.
In a third case at Truman Middle School, the respondent is just 12 years old. The student had been suspended from school because of incidents that began on Feb. 2. He had made threats to cause harm, and based on a school investigation, suspension was imposed. Within a day or so, the respondent reportedly asked others on Snapchat if anyone had a gun. This was reported to the school, and the respondent was expelled.
On Friday, Feb. 23, multiple students contacted school officials with reports of additional threats made by the respondent. The threats were made on Instagram to two accounts used by the respondent. Students reported the respondent posted the picture of a semi-automatic gun. He also stated that he was going to shoot up the school on Monday.
Police contacted the respondent and detained him. He stated that he never threatened to shoot up the school.
All three youths were ordered held in secure detention while their cases proceed.
Charges are only allegations and a person is presumed innocent unless he or she is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.