ANN ARBOR, MI – Over the last three weeks the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office has responded to nine threats towards local school districts. These incidents range from bomb threats written on a bathroom door to social media posts. This is a considerable increase in the number of school related threats and requires a significant dedication of resources in order to investigate.
The Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office take each of those cases seriously and use every resource possible to fully investigate their validity. Their goal is to ensure safety and in doing so they must make every effort to stay vigilant and not assume that these threats are just a common prank.
However, with those investigations comes significant impacts to students, parents, teachers, and law enforcement officers. Each investigation takes a considerable amount of resources. Bomb sniffing dogs are often brought in, numerous officers are needed in order to secure the scene, students are often evacuated or relocated, and ultimately the school day is disrupted. Locking down or evacuating an entire school can also be a traumatic and frightening experience for many of our young students.
Due to the significant community impact, the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office is asking for parents and educators to help them in letting students know just how serious these “pranks” or social media posts can be.
In the event that they are able to identify the person responsible for the threat, criminal charges will be sought where appropriate. In one case a middle school student wrote that “a bomb is going off at 1pm” and required the entire school to be evacuated. No arrests have been made in this case, but a middle school suspect has been identified. On March 5th Ypsilanti Middle School, Lincoln Middle School, Lincoln High School, and a local elementary all had some form of a school threat. All were unfounded. In the high school incident, a 25 year old former student of the district was arrested for a social media post that he made where he stated that “he may be the school shooter.” This morning, Tuesday March 6th, 2018, they had two additional threats and they are asking for the communities assistance.
Below are some of the possible charges. Of course there are many other charging options that can be considered depending on the facts of the case. In addition to these criminal charges there is always the possibility of school discipline, including suspension or expulsion.
- False Report of a Threat of Terrorism (20 year felony and/or $20,000)
- Computers-Using to Commit Crime (10 year and/or $10,000)
- Computers-Internet-Communicating with Another to Commit Crime (Maximum imprisonment of 15 years or more or life)
It is not their intention to arrest and charge every student where school discipline is appropriate, but in cases where crimes have been committed and where an arrest is warranted there is the possibility that those responsible may be charged.