Crime

2 boys under age 12 charged with making threats to shoot, bomb York school

York Police Chief Andy Robinson looks away Tuesday after detailing the shooting of one of his officers.
York Police Chief Andy Robinson looks away Tuesday after detailing the shooting of one of his officers. tkimball@heraldonline.com

Two York students younger than age 12 were charged with disturbing schools Monday after making social media threats to "shoot up" and "blow up" a York school, police said.

The students' names and exact ages were not released by York police.

The two students, both boys, attended York Intermediate School, which serves grades five and six, said York school district spokesman Tim Cooper.

The boys were released to their parents' custody after York police and FBI agents found that neither student had access to firearms or bombs, said Andy Robinson, York Police Department chief.

Police did not find any weapons or other materials in the possession of either child, Robinson said.

However, the threats made in a group chat with other children on social media were enough to arrest both students, Robinson said.

"Even though we did not find any weapons, the threats are not going to be tolerated," Robinson said. "We will investigate anyone who threatens to shoot up or blow up a school. Schools need to be safe and we will pursue criminal prosecution against anyone, of any age, who makes a threat of violence at any of our schools."

Prosecutors said the students charged Monday are not expected to appear in court Tuesday, but will make an initial appearance in the coming weeks.

York police were alerted to the threats Monday afternoon, when a parent and the parent's child who had seen the social media threats went to the police department to report it.

"The student and parent did the right thing; they came to us so we could immediately investigate," Robinson said.

A school resource officer was called in with FBI agents, and police interviewed the students in the chat, Robinson said. Two students were determined to be responsible for the threats, police said.

No weapons or bomb materials were found at the school, Robinson said.

Although no weapons or bomb materials were found, Robinson said that the threats will be investigated and charges will be made.

"There is nothing amusing, or innocuous, about such incidents," Robinson said.

Cooper said the incident did not happen on school grounds. He said district officials are "thankful for the vigilance of the York Police Department to keep all our campuses, students and staff safe."

Cooper called the York police response "quick, thorough and decisive."

Cooper praised the student and parent who reported the incident to police immediately.

Cooper said that, as of Tuesday, no district disciplinary action had been taken against the two students charged.

Earlier this month, South Carolina's disturbing schools law was toughened, after threats increased following a mass school shooting in Florida.

York police had eight incidents after the Florida shootings, when the department made charges against juveniles for threats, according to Robinson and city police reports.

The threat Monday is the first in York since a school shooting in Texas earlier this month, Robinson said.

In November, a fifth grader in York was charged after claiming, in a bogus telephone call, that one school had a gunman on campus. That resulted in a lockdown.

Andrew Dys: 803-329-4065, @AndrewDysHerald

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