Police plan to charge a 17-year-old Lewiston High School student with terrorizing following an alleged shooting threat on social media Tuesday night.
Lewiston administrators began hearing from parents and community members about an alleged threat on social media by a student at Lewiston High School on Tuesday night. A screenshot of the message provided by Lewiston school officials suggested that the student’s friend was planning on “shooting up the school.”
Lewiston police were asked to investigate. And because so many students and parents were concerned, Superintendent Bill Webster says he chose to close the high school on Wednesday.
“A message like that, in today’s world, has to be taken seriously,” he says. “Unfortunately, schools across the country get messages like that on a too-regular basis.”
Lewiston police Lt. David St. Pierre says that after questioning a 17-year-old Lewiston High School student, the threat was determined to be a hoax. The high school later reopened.
St. Pierre says that investigators plan to charge the 17-year-old.
“Based on the investigation, the district attorney’s office has determined there’s substantial cause to charge the student with terrorizing,” he says.
St. Pierre says “terrorizing” is defined as communicating a threat that could be dangerous to human life.
Meanwhile, Webster says the internet has changed how schools handle these kinds of threats. In the past, he says, school officials could investigate a note found in the school bathroom privately, then tell the community. Now, he says, threats often reach community members before they even get to administrators. That means school officials need to be especially cautious.
“Thousands of people already knew about the threat,” he says. “Schools are in this impossible situation of needing to react quickly, and unfortunately, often with incomplete information.”
Webster says school officials are still discussing any additional discipline for the student.