URBANA, Ill. (WCIA) — A teenager could spend the next few years in custody after police said she admitted to making a series of threatening phone calls to Urbana High School.
The 15-year-old from Chicago is being charged with making a terrorist threat, a Class X felony. Police said she was one of several people who called the Urbana High two weeks ago, threatening to kill students and staff. Those threats resulted in school being canceled one day and a soft lockdown a few days later.
“She is a juvenile, and so this is being handled in juvenile court,” said Champaign County State’s Attorney Julia Reitz. “The maximum penalty is up to your 21st birthday.”
Reitz said the teen told authorities it all started in a chat room on an app. An unknown person in the chat asked if anyone would make threats to the school and even sent an audio attachment of what to say.
“It’s unclear why she went ahead and did this,” Reitz said. “There was a photo of the individual, his face is covered, so hard to figure out who it is. But that person did have a stack of money in his hand, so it may have been a situation where somebody thought they were going to get paid to make these calls.”
On Wednesday, the teenager and her mother used Zoom to attend a detention hearing where the judge ruled she will stay in Champaign County’s custody until a status hearing next month.
Police are still investigating whether the teen was involved with a series of threatening emails the high school received last week. Those emails resulted in more lockdowns and school being moved online for four days last week and this week, leaving parents frightened.