Lin­coln Stu­dent Ar­rested In Con­nec­tion To School Threat

Washington County Enterprise-Leader - - FRONT PAGE - By Lynn Kutter

School and law en­force­ment of­fi­cials con­tinue to em­pha­size that any com­ments, ru­mors or state­ments of pos­si­ble threats against school cam­puses should be re­ported to au­thor­i­ties. In Lin­coln ear­lier this month, such a re­port led to the ar­rest of a stu­dent who may have been con­sid­er­ing an at­tack.

A call Feb. 4 to the Lin­coln Po­lice Depart­ment about threat­en­ing com­ments re­sulted in a 16-year-old Lin­coln High stu­dent be­ing ar­rested in con­nec­tion with con­spir­acy to com­mit bat­tery, a felony, ac­cord­ing to Brian Key, Lin­coln as­sis­tant po­lice chief.

“As far as co­op­er­a­tion we got from ev­ery­one, the school and con­cerned cit­i­zens, it worked very well,” po­lice Chief Rus­sell Mor­phis said Fri­day.

Mary Ann Spears, su­per­in­ten­dent of Lin­coln Con­sol­i­dated School Dis­trict, last week said the dis­trict sent out an all-call alert af­ter the ar­rest to let par­ents know what had hap­pened. She said the alert could not be too spe­cific be­cause the sit­u­a­tion dealt with a stu­dent.

High school of­fi­cials also met with stu­dents in an assem­bly that af­ter­noon to in­form them about the sit­u­a­tion.

Spears said an on­go­ing conversation with stu­dents and oth­ers is that they need to be aware of what’s go­ing on around them and share any in­for­ma­tion re­gard­ing po­ten­tial threats.

Re­fer­ring to the school shoot­ing in Florida on Feb. 14, Spears said, “Ev­ery­one is on high alert to take ev­ery­thing se­ri­ously.” Seven­teen peo­ple were killed when a for­mer stu­dent opened fire with a semi-au­to­matic ri­fle at Ma­jory Stone­man Dou­glas High School in Park­land, Fla.

Au­thor­i­ties in Florida are in­ves­ti­gat­ing why re­ports of threat­en­ing be­hav­ior by the sus­pect led to no ac­tions against him prior to the in­ci­dent. In Lin­coln, that wasn’t the case.

Key, who also serves as school re­source of­fi­cer, said po­lice re­ceived a call from a con­cerned par­ent on the night of Feb. 4 that a stu­dent, a boy, was talk­ing about “com­mit­ting a school shoot­ing.” Key said he ques­tioned the stu­dent the next day as soon as he got on cam­pus.

Key said the sus­pect was ar­rested that day, Feb. 5, and taken to Wash­ing­ton County Juvenile De­ten­tion Fa­cil­ity. The sus­pect is sched­uled for trial in juvenile court this week, Key said. Crim­i­nal pro­ceed­ings for in­di­vid­u­als charged in juvenile court are not open to the pub­lic.

Through the in­ves­ti­ga­tion and from con­ver­sa­tions the sus­pect had with other stu­dents, Key said po­lice found ev­i­dence the stu­dent had de­vel­oped a plan for the shoot­ing. Key said he could not elab­o­rate on the plan but that the in­ci­dent was sup­posed to hap­pen on Valen­tine’s Day — the same day as the Florida shoot­ing.

Key said he talked to and in­ter­viewed about 20 stu­dents at the school. His in­ves­ti­ga­tion did not de­ter­mine a pos­si­ble mo­tive for the stu­dent’s plan. He said it was men­tioned the con­ver­sa­tions were meant as a joke but noted, “These things are taken very se­ri­ously.”

Key did not know about any other threats or prob­lems with the stu­dent.

Key said he was glad it worked out like it did.

“It hit home when the Florida shoot­ing hap­pened that this could have been us. You never know,” Key said.

Lin­coln po­lice pro­vided ex­tra se­cu­rity on Valen­tine’s Day, mainly at the high school, but also had a pres­ence on and off at the other schools on cam­pus. Wash­ing­ton County Sher­iff’s Of­fice as­sisted Lin­coln.

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