Boy, 11, facing threat charges

EAST PALESTINE — A middle school student is facing possible charges after reportedly threatening school staff on Wednesday.

Police Chief Jim Brown III said on Thursday the department is investigating the threat and has referred the matter to the county juvenile court prosecutor for filing of charges.

Officer Daniel Haueter was called to the middle school at 4 p.m. Wednesday on a report that a student was making threats toward school staff.

Brown said the 11-year-old boy had allegedly made a comment threatening to shoot two school staff members.

Police did not find any weapons on the boy, he added.

District Superintendent Traci Hostetler said the district is working with police on the investigation.

“We will continue to work with police as they determine if the threat had merit,” she said.

She also said that a Facebook post alleging a gun and a knife threat during the school day on Thursday was “absolutely false and it unnecessarily frightened our parents, staff, and students.”

She went on to say that she would like to thank the mother who reported the post and was glad the district could calm the concerns immediately.

“Student safety is our top priority. We take all threats seriously, investigate them thoroughly, involve police if necessary, and punish to the fullest extent anyone making any sort of threat,” she said.

Police were also called to the high school on Wednesday for a report that a female student was making threats online toward another student.

Police and school officials determined the threat did not involve any physical violence and did not warrant charges.

The matter was handled by the school, according to the police report.

“Both incidents are being taken seriously and we appreciate the partnership we have with police,” Hostetler said.

Brown said it is unfortunate that police and schools are dealing with student threats on an increasing basis.

“Anything that would pop up like this we obviously would take it seriously and investigate. If we investigate it and it turns out that a criminal charge can be filed, we are absolutely going to go that route,” he said.

He also encouraged the public to report any suspicious behavior.

“If you see something, say something. It is probably more important now than ever,” he said.