GT Prosecutor Taking School Threat Cases Seriously
It’s been one week since the deadly shooting at Oxford High School. Since that day, a number of copy cat threats have been made to schools around the state.
Complaints were made by Traverse City Central and West High Schools, from East Middle School and one from Traverse City Heights.
The threats were made by students in the schools.
“At this point it’s our firm belief that none of the the children- juveniles- involved had the intent or the ability to carry out the threats that were being made,” says Grand Traverse County Prosecutor Noelle Moeggenberg. “We are still taking the cases very seriously because obviously they’ve created an environment of fear for their teachers their fellow students.”
During the investigation, law enforcement look for any signs that the individuals could potentially carry out a threat.
“In each and every case they talk to the students. The law enforcement talk to the students specifically,” says Moeggenberg. “They went back and then talked to the parents made sure that there were no weapons in the house that the kid or at least the kids had no access to those weapons.”
The motives are still unclear for most of the cases. One was a student that claimed to be bullied. Another, an act of peer pressure.
“There’s this sort of shut off, this lack of understanding, “says Moeggenberg. “Thinking about the peer pressure case, the individual that did it responded to peer pressure, but I think the peers were wanting a day off of school and so they found someone that they thought would be willing to do it.”
Four of the threats were made on social media. One was left as a note in a bathroom at Traverse City Central High School.
Moeggenberg says her office will be seeking the maximum penalty for these cases. The maximum charge for an adult making a terroristic threat, a threat made against a government entity, is up to 20 years.
“Those kids that are still in juvenile court that’s still a very, very serious crime,” says Moeggenberg. “It’s a crime that will follow them for a few years if they were to get in trouble as an adult. It would impact a sentence later on. And obviously, for right now, it means counseling, a lot of fines and costs, potential expulsion from school and potential detention.”
They will have to take a look at each individual’s life at home and at school.
“Every case is different,” says Moeggenberg. “There may be things going on in that defendant, that child’s life that we need to take into consideration as we do in any case but we will absolutely start out with the maximum charge.”
Meanwhile, law enforcement are exhausting their resources investigating each case and additional surveillance around the schools.
“Those resources being used whether it be police, fire, EMS, they also have to be used for 911 calls so that’s a deputy that’s not able to go to a serious crash or another call that someone is contacting central dispatch that needs assistance,” says Grand Traverse County Sheriff’s Captain Chris Clark.
There were requests for additional law enforcement presence at the schools Tuesday, but the additional presence is not an uncommon occurrence.