ST. GEORGE, Utah (ABC4 News) – St. George police have arrested and charged a Snow Canyon Middle School student after authorities said he made threats about a school shooting.
St. George Police Officer Tiffany Atkin said authorities were notified that a male juvenile was sending text messages to multiple people about his plans to shoot up the school on Wednesday.
“You know how this goes,” Atkin said. “It spreads and shares, and someone alerted us within a few minutes.”
Police learned of the text messages at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, and by 9:30 p.m. that night, investigators interviewed the juvenile and his parents and placed him in custody. He is facing a third-degree felony.
“A threat is a threat regardless,” Atkin added. “It’s unacceptable even to say it, think it, so regardless of what his intent was, it doesn’t matter.”
School administrators confirmed a heavy police presence at SCMS Wednesday, but say the campus was nearly empty. Many parents told ABC 4 News they needed to keep their kids at home to feel safe.
“I’m angry that I can’t send my kids to school knowing that they’re safe and I’m terrified, absolutely terrified,” said Jessica Lauritzen, a parent of a student at SCMS. “How do you keep them safe?”
“We haven’t slept much at my house. We’ve talked a lot about what to do in case of active shooter and we’ve watched some videos and resources on YouTube to protect our kids,” Lauritzen added.
Parents told ABC4 News they were notified of a similar incident at SCMS that took place last week when a shooting threat written in pencil was found on the cover of a calculator.
Atkin said last week’s incident has been thoroughly investigated, and officers believe the two incidents are not related.
“We don’t know who wrote those and we don’t believe that they’re related,” Atkin said. “We don’t believe it’s an active threat.”
Families in the St. George area said they’re on high alert following a similar incident last Wednesday. Police confirmed they rushed to Lava Ridge Intermediate School after a student called the school saying someone had a gun on campus. Authorities confirmed the situation was a hoax.
School administrators recommend parents educate their kids to help them realize that school shooting threats, even as “jokes,” have serious consequences.
“It puts a lot of lives in danger, and it upsets a lot of children and a lot of families,” said Steve Dunham, director of communications for the Washington County School District.
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