15-Year-Old Erie Student Arrested for School Threats on Snapchat
Investigators have arrested a 15-year-old student from Strong Vincent Middle School for the school threats made on Snapchat that forced a couple of schools to close their doors, according to police.
The suspect will be charged as a juvenile with two counts of felony terroristic threats and one count of misdemeanor disorderly conduct. The individual will be held at the Edmund L. Thomas Juvenile Detention Facility.
No bombs or guns were available to the suspect, and there is no credible evidence that any steps were taken toward any assault, police said.
Erie Police received information about the threat directed at Erie High School and Strong Vincent Middle School from the public Sunday evening.
The message, which said the person had bombs and guns, came from an individual using the name "School Shooter" on Snapchat, according to investigators.
Erie Police and Erie School District Police worked with the FBI to gather information and conduct an investigation which led them to the 15 year old. The juvenile was brought to the police station by his mother for an interview, where he admitted to posting the message under the fake account name on Snapchat, according to police.
Police said they are continuing to investigate additional social media posts which appear to be possibly related. They are issuing a reminder that anyone who makes threatening posts will face criminal charges.
Erie's Public Schools also issued a statement on the arrest.
“We are thankful to law enforcement for the thorough investigation of these threats and the timely arrest of the person responsible. Schools are not in session on Tuesday, Nov. 5 due to Election Day. All district schools will be in session as planned on Wednesday, Nov. 6. Thank you to all our district families for your patience and understanding as we work to ensure the safety and security of our district students, staff and faculty.”
Erie's Public Schools allowed parents to use their discretion Monday on whether to send their kids to Erie High School, but there was an increased police presence at the school.
Strong Vincent and East Middle Schools were not in session Monday because of a planned Act 80 day.
Erie Rise Charter School also canceled classes Monday and later decided to do the same Tuesday.
Allison Reynolds, CEO of the Robert Benjamin Wiley Community Charter School, also made the call to keep students home.
“Any time that you're talking about a school shooting or bombs in a school or anything of that nature, it's kind of a no-brainer for me," said Reynolds. "I mean we have little ones from five years old to 14-years-old, and there's just no reason to ever take the risk to have those students in the building.”
Reynolds also made the decision to cancel classes Tuesday as well.
“Is this a hoax? Is this fake? Is this kids just trying to get off from school?," said Reynolds. "It very well may be, but that's not a reason for us to not take action and to not cancel school because it very well may happen. If it would, it would be a terrible tragedy and not one that we're willing to ever take the risk to have."
Robert Benjamin Wiley Community Charter School said it will be beefing up security over the next couple of weeks.
The FBI said it has seen a significant increase in these kinds of threats over the years, and its agents take them very seriously.
If caught, suspects could be charged federally and face up to five years in prison.