SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WCIA) — An elementary school in Connecticut received a shooting threat Wednesday afternoon. A police investigation revealed the suspect’s identity, a 14-year-old student at Springfield High School.
On June 1, the Springfield Police Department was contacted by law enforcement in Newtown, Connecticut about a telephone threat to commit a shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
As a direct result of a collaborative investigation by the Springfield Police Department and law enforcement in Newtown, the individual who made the threat was identified as a 14-year-old male student in the 9th grade at Springfield High School.
Police said the juvenile has been arrested and is currently in the custody of the Sangamon County Juvenile Detention Center, awaiting a psychological evaluation and risk assessment by a mental health professional employed by Memorial Behavioral Health.
After extensive investigation, the Springfield Police Department has determined the juvenile did not have immediate access to firearms and was not capable of carrying out the threat. Law enforcement believes the juvenile suspect was acting alone. Any risk of violence related to this threat has been neutralized by the swift action of all agencies involved in the response to this incident.
The juvenile has been charged with disorderly conduct, a Class 4 felony under circumstances involving transmission of “a threat of destruction of a school building or school property, or a threat of violence, death or bodily harm directed against persons at a school, school function, or school event, whether or not school is in session.”
Officers said potential penalties include a sentence of one to three years in the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice or Department of Corrections, depending upon the age of the offender, a fine of up to $25,000, up to 120 hours of community service and reimbursement of any public agency for the reasonable costs of the emergency response by the public agency up to $10,000.
Sangamon County State’s Attorney Dan Wright stated, “This case and any other threats of violence directed against a school will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Period. The only appropriate response to crimes involving school threats is zero tolerance and thorough consideration of all available mental health services our community can provide. Individuals who may be tempted to threaten violence against a school, make a false bomb threat, engage in social media posts of a threatening nature and any other conduct which could jeopardize the safety of our schools will be met with swift and comprehensive action by school officials, law enforcement and the Sangamon County State’s Attorney’s Office. The gravely serious and unequivocal nature of our cooperative response to such threats cannot be overstated.”
He added, “We should expect nothing less than a zero tolerance policy in such cases along with a commitment to facilitate any mental health services deemed necessary. The Sangamon County State’s Attorney’s Office, local law enforcement and school districts across Sangamon County will remain committed to a unified approach to such threats of violence and do everything within our collective authority to protect the safety of our students, school staff and all who enter our educational facilities each day.”
“Recent events locally, as well as the tragedy in Uvalde, Texas, have placed the public on heightened alert and the Springfield Police Department vows to thoroughly investigate all incidents that involve threats to or within our schools,” said Springfield Police Department Chief Ken Scarlette. “The results of this investigation and any future investigations will be forwarded to the Sangamon County State’s Attorney’s Office for prompt review. The quick response and actions taken are an example of the excellent working relationship between Springfield School District 186, the Sangamon County State’s Attorney’s Office and the Springfield Police Department.”
“District 186 does not condone nor will we accept violent actions, verbal threats or social media threats/photos to students, staff or the school community,” said Springfield School District 186 Superintendent Jennifer Gill. “In addition, our Student Family Handbook clearly states in our code of discipline that we will not tolerate threats, weapons or look-alike weapons in our schools. We will act swiftly and as a community we must band together to spread awareness of, ‘See something say something’ so that we can address issues immediately. We all must have the hard conversations with our children and youth in the community to address these ongoing concerns and protect our students together. We are committed to providing trauma-informed social-emotional support for our students and staff. We appreciate the cooperation and coordination with the State’s Attorney’s office, the Springfield Police Department, the medical community and behavioral health services as well as all of our first responders so that we may deliver swift action.”