Lincoln Student Arrested In Connection To School Threat
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.