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Youths face charges in school-related threat cases

April 29, 1999|By MARLO BARNHART

At least eight students in the Tri-State area have been charged this week with making school-related threats in the wake of the April 20 rampage at a Colorado high school.

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On Thursday, Maryland State Fire Marshals charged a 14-year-old Smithsburg High School student with making a false rumor about a bomb.

Officers from the Smithsburg Police Department interviewed the teenager after a remark he made last week was overheard. The youth was released to the custody of his parents, according to fire marshals. He was suspended from school pending a review by school authorities, they said.

A spokesman in the Department of Juvenile Justice office said Thursday that the Smithsburg boy will face a formal juvenile hearing before a Washington County Circuit Court judge.

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Also Thursday, three middle school students in Frederick County, Md., were charged after an investigation revealed they fashioned and intended to use an "improvised incendiary device," authorities alleged.

The two 13-year-olds and a 12-year-old attended New Market Middle School, according to the Maryland State Fire Marshal's Office.

School officials notified the Frederick County Sheriff's Office about the device, which was disposed of by State Fire Marshal bomb technicians.

Deputies said "improvised incendiary devices" are not considered explosives, although they contain components that will burn violently and can cause serious damages.

The New Market youths were released to the custody of their parents and each will go before juvenile justice officials. The three have been suspended from school pending review by school authorities.

The incident was the second at New Market Middle School this week.

On Tuesday, a 14-year-old Frederick, Md., boy was charged with one count of threatening to blow up an explosive device after a bomb threat was called into the school. The boy was released to his mother, deputies said.

Reports and rumors of threats at schools follow the April 20 rampage at Columbine High School in which 12 students and one teacher were killed by two gun-wielding teens, who then took their own lives.

Other incidents include:

- Washington County Sheriff's deputies are considering whether to press criminal charges against a 14-year-old boy whom they allege sent threatening e-mail messages to other students from a home computer on Saturday.

That case is being reviewed by the Washington County State's Attorney's office.

- In Frederick, two 14-year-old boys were charged Wednesday with making a threat of arson to burn the Heather Ridge School.

- A Fannett-Metal Middle School student in Willow Hill, Pa., was charged Tuesday with making terroristic threats - one saying he would shoot two girls if he had a gun, and the other made on his school bus, authorities alleged.

- A telephoned bomb threat closed Jefferson High School in Shenandoah Junction, W.Va., on Wednesday. A reward has been offered for information on who made that call.

Adults found guilty of making bomb threats, which is a felony, could be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison, fined $10,000 or both.

Juveniles can be removed from their homes and placed in secure juvenile detention, in some cases until their 21st birthdays.

Maryland State Fire Marshal Rocco Gabriele asks parents to be aware of the activities of their children and to talk to them about the serious consequences of making bomb threats.

Staff Writer Kimberly Yakowski contributed to this story.

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