WESTERVILLE, Ohio (WCMH) — A 12-year-old boy is facing a felony charge of inducing panic for sending threatening texts to classmates, saying he would “shoot up” his middle school.
One of the messages read: “I can be a school threat I can shoot up those school tomorrow if I wanted to I got 5 magazines I can shoot some teachers and some kids I will if I go to prison at least I did a good thing and got them out of my life.”
Westerville police said they were first contacted Monday by an assistant principal at Blendon Middle School. The parents of a student showed threatening texts that she had received the night before. The officer and assistant principal met with the 12-year-old boy, a sixth-grader at the school. They found no weapons on him, and then he was suspended and his parents contacted.
The next day, another student and parent met with the assistant principal and police to show a second text thread that contained threatening messages. It included a photo of the boy wearing a camouflage vest and holding a semiautomatic weapon. In one message he claimed to have a “Glock 9 millimeter,” and in another he said he would shoot that student first.
After the parents of the student decided to press charges, officers went to the boy’s house that night and arrested him. SWAT officers from Columbus police were called out to assist.
Blendon Middle School Principal Kendall Harris notified parents of the incident in a letter Wednesday.
“We recently learned about and took appropriate action to address a group chat involving several students,” Harris wrote. “During their exchange, which occurred off school grounds and outside of school hours, one of the students displayed a gun. This individual subsequently threatened to bring harm to our campus and specific individuals, some of whom were also involved in the group chat.”
Detective Lt. Justin Alloway of Westerville police credited the school resource officers for bringing the matter to their attention, and he said parents should talk to their children about guns and make sure that their children don’t have access to them.
“The other thing is, if they’re having problems with other students, if they get to the point that they’re feeling something may happen, that’s when they can reach out to their counselors, to their school resource officer like the parents and students did,” Alloway said.
During the search of the boy’s home, Alloway said officers found the gun used in the message and an unspecified number of other weapons.
“The first thing we need to do is lock up firearms,” Alloway said. “Students need to have no access to those firearms and access is the first thing.”
He also encouraged students who are having problems with other students to reach out.
“The other thing is if they’re having problems with other students, if they get to the point that they’re feeling something may happen, that’s when they can reach out to their counselors, to their school resource officer like the parents and students did today,” Alloway said.
Charges of aggravated menacing and inducing panic were filed in the juvenile division of Franklin County Common Pleas Court, and the boy has been released to the custody of his parents.