Commonwealth Journal

December 19, 2013

Teen who sent texts under home incarceration

by Heather Tomlinson
Commonwealth Journal

Somerset — A Southwestern High School student accused of sending threatening texts detailing a violent assault at the school appeared in court.

The 15-year-old juvenile appeared in Pulaski District Court Thursday. The juvenile is charged with first-degree terroristic threatening, a Class C felony.

Lt. Det. Brett Whitaker, with the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Department, which is investigating the case, said the juvenile was placed on an ankle monitor and placed under home incarceration while his case moves forward.

The juvenile was arrested Monday after detectives were alerted to a series of texts from the student that described, in vivid detail, an attack on the high school.

Det. Bobby Jones, with the sheriff’s department, said he was approached by a youth member at his church on Sunday morning about the texts, which had begun circulating among several SWHS students soon after the juvenile sent them.

“Place (two) fire bombs in the lobby, one near the bathroom entrance and one near the cafeteria entrance, (two) where the gym doors are, one by the crowd of people ... near the vending machine, the other near the store by the other crowd of people,” the student allegedly stated in the text. “At 8:15 (a.m.) detonate the bombs which will cause chaos, aim low at the legs of running students, injuring as many as possible and disallowing then to run, after people are done running, go back through the people on the floor and shoot each of them in the head, eliminating the chance of a survivor ...”

The student then stated in the text that he intended to shoot himself and lie down with the “crowd of bodies” and pretend to be a victim in the assault.

The student also allegedly stated that he had the plans, but he didn’t have the weapons to carry out the assault.

Investigators were able to quickly trace the texts to the juvenile, and by the time Monday morning rolled around, detectives and deputies had already swept SWHS for any signs of destructive devices, items the student allegedly said he would use in an attack on the school.

Through a concerted effort by law enforcement officials and school employees, the entrances to SWHS were closely monitored Monday morning to ensure the student didn’t enter the school. When he didn’t show up, investigators tracked him down and interviewed him about the texts. Jones said the student admitted to sending the texts, but did not provide a reason why he wanted to carry out the plans.

The juvenile has been placed under a number of restrictions, including no cell phone usage, no social media usage, and no computer usage except to complete school assignments, according to Whitaker.

Whitaker said the juvenile’s next court date is set for Feb. 27, 2014.

Arrested juveniles are not identified publicly and their court records remain sealed until they are indicted in circuit court.