Serving Northern St. Louis County, Minnesota

Two students suspended over threats made at school

Keith Vandervort
Posted 3/28/18

ELY - Charges could be coming against an Ely high school girl who left graffiti threats in an Ely Memorial High School restroom last week, and a boy who made social media threats over the …

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Two students suspended over threats made at school

Posted

ELY - Charges could be coming against an Ely high school girl who left graffiti threats in an Ely Memorial High School restroom last week, and a boy who made social media threats over the weekend.

On Wednesday, March 21, the Ely Police Department responded to the Ely Memorial High School for written threats found in a restroom. According to a press release issued by the Ely PD, “Upon investigation, we have determined there was no credible threat of violence against the school.”

A message was sent to parents both via email and computerized phone call alerting them of the threat. “Threatening graffiti was discovered in a bathroom in the Memorial Building on Wednesday afternoon, March 21. The Ely Police Department was immediately notified by administration. The Ely Police Department is investigating and has determined the incident to not be a credible threat,” was the message sent to parents.

The incident occurred in a stall in a girl’s bathroom. It was reported at approximately 1:45 p.m., according to police. School remained open on Thursday although there were reports of numerous parents keeping children home from school.

A person of interest was interviewed, and they admitted to making the threats, according to police. “This person admitted to making the threats and evidence was collected,” officials said.

An Ely student parent, who wished not to be identified, told the Timberjay on Friday that a middle-school-aged girl who attends school at Ely was at first believed to be involved in the incident.

In an email to parents on Monday, Abrahamson said, “Through careful and thorough investigation of last week’s graffiti threat, the original person of interest, a middle school female, was determined to have no involvement and was exonerated. Careful and deliberate review of video footage enabled investigators, to ‘connect the dots’ and ultimately determine that the perpetrator was a high school female, who has admitted to committing the act.”

One parent also reported that there was an increased police presence at the school on Thursday, and school staff and the police department’s School Resource Officer addressed individual classes about the incident.

Abrahamson confirmed that information in an email to parents, “During the early part of the day, both principals, along with police officers, visited every classroom in the buildings to meet with students to discuss any questions they had and to reassure them of their safety.”

Facebook posts about the incident included this from an Ely teacher, “I am teaching tomorrow. My kid is going to school tomorrow. That is not advice, just information that may help some with perspective.”

According to ISD Superintendent Kevin Abrahamson, the number of students not in school on Thursday was around 20-30 in the Memorial building.

A parent of two daughters in the high school as well as an employee at ISD 696 posted on the Ely Police Department Facebook page: “They say they have the suspect that wrote about a shooting tomorrow in the school. I hope this person talks. I hope you find out if he/she was acting alone or with others. Then again my parent intuition kicks in and thinks what if he/she just did it for attention? What if he/she is serious and is involved with others but doesn’t want to “nark” them out and they follow through with the shooting? As a parent I’d like some answers. Ease our minds. This is something not to take lightly no matter who it is. As for now, I have one daughter scared as heck and the other said she’s going but do I want her to go? I’ll be going to work. I’d take a bullet for any kid. Some answers would be greatly appreciated. The seniors will be gone, it’s end of the semester, the weather is changing how about using a snow day to figure this horrible threat out.”

Another post to the EPD Facebook page said, “Ely Police: I believe you owe the community a better explanation of (1) what exactly was the threat and (2) how did you determine that this threat is not credible. Parents and our community deserve to know.”

The Ely Police Department forwarded all evidence and reports to the St. Louis County Attorney’s Office for consideration of filing any charges.

This was a joint investigation between the Police Department and Ely Memorial High School staff. “We take all precautions when anything like this surfaces as school safety is a priority for the District and the Ely Police Department. The investigation into who left the threat is ongoing and we will remain vigilant,” police said. “We would like to reiterate that we never felt there was a safety risk, and the children’s safety is our top priority.”

The Ely Police Department posted on its Facebook page: “We will also have officers in the school until the investigation is complete.”

Meanwhile, Abrahamson said Monday night that a second threat involving Ely schools was posted on Snapchat social media on Saturday and “immediately dealt with” by Ely PD. “We were informed of a threat that appeared on social media last Saturday and Ely P.D. responded upon notification and a juvenile male was taken into custody,” he said.

According to the Ely PD, “On March 24 (we) received a report of a photo distributed over Snapchat depicting a threat against the school. A juvenile was arrested and was lodged at Arrowhead Juvenile Center in Duluth. School staff were informed of the threat and made aware that the arrest was made. We thank those who reported this incident.”

Abrahamson added, “We are working with district legal counsel on these issues and both students have been suspended pending the possible imposition of further consequences, which may include expulsion. We thank you for your patience and understanding as we continue to work on these matters and to keep your children and our students safe.”

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