By Mindy Ragan Wood
Two students are in custody waiting to see a judge to face accusations that they made threats to shoot up one or more Yukon schools.
YPS officials were made aware of the threats through the OSSI tip line and immediately began working with local law enforcement. The threats were reported Monday at 4:06 p.m. and later at 5:18. One of the reported threats included a screenshot on Snapchat.
Just days earlier a video went viral in the community which showed two teens beating up a Yukon middle school student.
During a press conference Tuesday, Superintendent Jason Simeroth denied that the threats were related to the video. Neither he nor Police Chief John Corn stated the students’ reasons for making the threat.
“If you could understand students on a daily basis in doing things like this, we would all write books and we would all have been retired and could have solved the world’s problems,” Simeroth said. “We do this daily and there are motives behind kids, whether it’s seeking attention or some sort of trauma they’ve faced whether it’s a cry for help, whatever, we look at that and we take that into consideration when we implement all of the programs that we do to remedy those situations in our schools.”
Corn said the text of the threats are considered evidence yet to be used in court and could not be revealed. Simeroth said the threats involved gun violence.
Classes were closed Tuesday “out of an abundance of caution,” Simeroth said, to let the police conduct its investigation.
“I cannot speak highly enough about the response from our partners in the police department,” he said with a shaking voice. “Within minutes Chief Corn and his staff were reaching out to us as they always do with every situation to be a partner with us in this event.”
Investigators used resources in the FBI to help them identify the students who made the alleged threats. Police investigators interviewed three people Monday night until 1 a.m. Tuesday. The two were arrested and were taken to the Gary E. Miller Juvenile Justice Center.
Corn said the students did not have weapons or access to firearms. The two were jailed on complaints under the Terrorist Hoax Act.
“They will not be tolerated,” Corn said of the threats. “That’s the position of the district, that’s the position of my department.”
An earlier threat was found to be unsubstantiated.
When a reporter asked if the two students “were from the (middle) school,” Corn replied, “they are.”
Simeroth denied it.
“We’re not going to share that information that may become more easily able to identify a student, by revealing that and again that’s a FERPA violation,” he said.
FERPA is a federal law that does not allow school officials to reveal a student’s identity or the disciplinary actions that are taken.
Corn could not confirm if the two students were working together in launching the threats, but he did not deny it.
“We’ll probably find that out,” Corn said. “Whether that becomes releasable or is withheld until these folks are before a judge, that will probably make that determination at that time.”
Simeroth said the students will be disciplined. Classes were to resume Wednesday.
*update: a clarification has been posted to this story to reflect that the student does not have special needs*