Kalamazoo County prosecutor says school threats ‘never a joke’

Posted at 7:58 PM, Nov 14, 2019

KALAMAZOO, Mich. — The Portage Police Department arrested a 17-year-old girl on Thursday who allegedly posted a school threat on social media toward Portage Northern High School earlier this week.

She was the third teenager arrested this week in regards to school threats posted online.

“This has a huge impact on the communities, on the schools, on the students on the teachers, on the administration,” said Kalamazoo County prosecutor Jeff Getting about all the threats made this week.  “There’s nothing joking, funny, or simple about ‘I’m going to shoot up the school.’”

Sunday night, Kalamazoo police began investigating the first school threat posted to social media toward Loy Norrix High School, KDPS said in a previous interview with FOX 17. In response, Kalamazoo Public Schools canceled classes on Monday at Norrix and other schools in the district.

Tuesday, Portage Public Schools cancelled classes after Portage Northern High School received a threat. Parchment schools let out early after they received a threat there. 

“We have to take all of these threats so seriously because when you say ‘I’m going to shoot up the school at 8 a.m.’ I have to believe you,” Getting said. “I can’t err on the side of ‘oh well, you know, this is probably just some teenager joking around.’ It’s not a joke. It’s never a joke.”

Tuesday, KDPS arrested a 14-year-old male for allegedly posting that first threat Sunday night, police said. Wednesday morning, they arrested a 16-year-old  accused of a copycat threat.

“They’re really good at what they do,” Getting said about law enforcement. “They’re going to track down that IP address. They’re going to track down the provider. They’re going to be in your house.”

Both teenagers are currently lodged at the juvenile home, police said.

Since detectives did not find any evidence that led them to believe it went beyond an online threat, the teens were charged with a misdemeanor criminal offense, Getting said. They could face up to a year in jail. 

“It’s never going to be treated as a joke,” Getting said. “It’s going to be taken seriously. And if you don’t want to be held accountable for doing this then don’t do it.”