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Two teenage boys facing charges in school threats

March 09, 2001

Two teenage boys facing charges in school threats



By DAVE McMILLION and STACEY DANZUSO / Staff Writers

photo: JOE CROCETTA / staff photographer

School violenceA 14-year-old Charles Town (W.Va.) Junior High School student has been charged with threatening to kill his former girlfriend and start shooting students as they walked into the school, Charles Town Police Chief Mike Aldridge said Thursday.

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The student also is accused of threatening to blow up the High Street school, which has a student body of about 800, Aldridge alleged.

In a separate incident, a Chambersburg (Pa.) Area High School student faces charges after he threatened to bring a gun into the school this week.

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The 17-year-old Pennsylvania youth allegedly threatened Wednesday in front of a teacher and an aide that he would bring a gun to school on Thursday, Principal Dennis Hillwig said Thursday.

In the West Virginia incident, two students were told about the threats but did not report them to administrators until the end of the school day Wednesday, Aldridge said.

Those students told other students about the threats during the day, however, and rumors quickly spread to parents, Aldridge said.

The police department and the Jefferson County Board of Education were flooded with calls by worried parents who told officials they would keep their children home from school Thursday, Aldridge said.

The boy who allegedly made the threats was taken to the city police station Wednesday night where he admitted to making the statements, but said he was only joking, Aldridge alleged.

The boy was taken before Jefferson County Magistrate Gail Boober and charged with report of bombs and other explosive devices, Aldridge said.

A conviction on that charge carries a sentence of six months to a year in jail, a $5,000 fine, or both, Aldridge said.

The youth, whom police would not identify, was taken to the Eastern Regional Juvenile Detention Center on South Queen Street in Martinsburg. A hearing is expected to be held for the boy within 10 days, Aldridge said.

Police received permission to search the boy's bedroom, but found nothing unusual, Aldridge said. The boy's grandfather, who lives at the house, told police he had some rifles, and police believe the boy may have had some information about how to make bombs, Aldridge said.

"Did he have the capacity to do it? Quite possibly. Because of the timing, I think we are super sensitive to this situation," Aldridge said during a press conference Thursday afternoon.

In the Pennsylvania incident, a teacher and an aide reported the comments to Hillwig.

"We started an investigation talking to him and the teachers to get our facts together on what he said," Hillwig said. "We felt what he said was serious enough to take action at school and involve the police department."

The incident happened at the end of the school day, and students were never in any danger, Hillwig said.

"One comment was he was going to bring a gun to school (Thursday)," Hillwig alleged.

He said officials searched the student but did not find a gun.

Hillwig called a special faculty meeting after school Wednesday to alert teachers to the situation and to prepare them to answer questions from students.

"There was little or no concern today in the school. It was business as usual," Hillwig said Thursday afternoon.

The student was charged with making terroristic threats and was placed in Abraxas, a juvenile detention facility in South Mountain, Pa., according to Chambersburg Police.

On Monday, a 15-year-old who until recently lived in Knoxville, Md., allegedly opened fire in a high school bathroom in California, killing two people and wounding 13.

Aldridge said the boy made a threat against his former girlfriend because he was angry that she went to a party with another boy, and also threatened the other boy.

The two boys who were told about the threats related them to Principal Larry Mullin at the end of the day, Aldridge said.

City police stationed three officers outside the school Thursday morning so parents would feel it was safe to bring their children to school, Aldridge said.

About 30 parents attended an open meeting with Mullin Thursday morning to learn about the incident, Aldridge said.

Associate Superintendent of Schools Bev Hughes said Mullin praised the two boys who reported the threats. Hughes said the school system will take all threats seriously.

In addition to the felony charge pending against him, the boy could also face suspension or expulsion from school.

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