Floyd County prosecutor blasts school threats as hundreds of students stay home from class
Floyd County Prosecutor Keith Henderson says the threats will be taken seriously -- as will the penalties for the perpetrators when they are identified.
FLOYD COUNTY, Ind. (WDRB) -- In the days since 17 people were killed in a mass shooting at a Parkland, Florida, reports of threats made against several local schools have brought chaos, panicked parents and students refusing to go to class.
A threat to blow up New Albany High School and Jeffersonville High School landed a 15-year-old in jail, and a 16-year-old was arrested for a threat to New Albany High School last week.
And they're not isolated cases.
There have been at least a dozen arrests, mostly children, across Kentucky and Indiana, with the youngest suspect being just 13 years old. In the last week, students in Kentucky have been arrested for threats in Bullitt County, Christian County, Clay County, Knox County, Jessamine County, Laurel County, Madison County, Rockcastle County and Whitley County.
And Indiana authorities have arrested students for school threats made in Clark County, Floyd County, Madison County and Hamilton County.
Greater Clark County Schools said 700 students stayed home from Jeffersonville High School on Monday, in the aftermath of the online threat made over the weekend.
"To think about something like that happening at your school is terrifying," said Jeffersonville High Senior Jaleyah Northington, who stayed home Monday. "I don't know. I just have a lot of anxiety about it."
The images of violence pouring from Parkland and Marshall County, Kentucky, leave students like Northington scared for their own safety as copycat threats emerge.
"I don't ever miss school, so this is very serious for me," Northington added. "I feel like they think, kind of, words are words, and it's not."
The words prompting her concern hit social media Sunday. In the post, someone threatened to blow up Greater Clark and New Albany Floyd County Schools, naming New Albany High School's assistant principal and Jeffersonville High School's principal by name.
The post read as follows (with expletives removed):
"First @GCCSchools I have people coming for y'all then we will come to @NAFCSuccess we will blow that [EXPLETIVE] up suspended me for no reason be ready 2/19/18 [EXPLETIVE] mrs straight and mr apple"
Floyd County Prosecutor Keith Henderson said the threats will be taken seriously, as will the penalties for the perpetrators when they are identified.
"There will be consequences now for that -- for those words," Henderson said. "There must be because of the nature of what we are dealing with now."
Intimidation is the charge for the 15-year-old who has been accused of making the post as well as the 16-year-old arrested for a threat at New Albany High School last week. Besides suspension and expulsion, both suspects could face time in juvenile detention.
Police have charged most of the juveniles responsible for the threats in Kentucky with terroristic threatening, a felony which is punishable by up to five years in jail.
"Social media is what has been exasperating this," Henderson said.
Henderson also echoed the advice for parents to talk to their kids, warning them that what they post online, be it real or fake, matters.
"We have what kids think are private conversations that turn into ... in this case, we have two kids sitting right now in juvenile detention over it," he said.
Authorities insisted that the hallways at JHS and NAHS were safe, but that wasn't enough for Northington.
"The Florida shooting was a wake-up call for everyone, like, 'Hey, we need to stay home and be safe,'" she said.
On Monday, Kentucky State Police tried to reach out to people on Twitter, where some of the threats started, posting a tweet with a picture of Kentucky's law attached saying, "It's not a joke. Posting a violent school threat anywhere is a felony and when caught, it will affect the rest of your life."
Let me be completely clear, violent threats toward any school is not tolerated & will be fully investigated!— Trooper Purdy (@TprPurdy) February 19, 2018
It's not a joke...
Posting a violent school threat anywhere, including #SocialMedia is a #Felony & when caught, it will affect the rest of your life.#ThinkBeforeYouPost pic.twitter.com/knTiy0rUHJ
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