MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

April 17, 2014

AR student held after online threat

Arrest comes after police get several reports of Facebook post

By Anita Reding
Phoenix Staff Writer

— Students and parents are being praised for notifying authorities regarding violent threats made on social media.

Muskogee police received several calls about 9:50 p.m. Tuesday regarding a reference to a Facebook post allegedly made by a 15-year-old boy who attends Alice Robertson Junior High School.

“The post made threats to bring a gun to school and harm students,” police Cpl. Michael Mahan said.

Police took the boy into custody without incident soon after receiving the information. He was taken for a mental evaluation and then transferred under an emergency detention order to OSU Medical Center in Tulsa, Mahan said. The boy’s name was not released.

"The really good thing about this is that multiple students saw the Facebook post and reported it to their parents, who then reported it to authorities, which is exactly what needs to happen,” said Wendy Burton, Muskogee Public Schools’ spokeswoman. “It's what we're teaching our kids, that if they have concerns they need to report it."

Larry Cathey was one of the parents who called police Tuesday after his daughter showed him the Facebook post. He called police immediately, he said.

“I’m just glad the police got it taken care of,” Cathey said.

Cathey appreciates the efforts of school administrators and the police department “to keep my child safe,” he said.

Brandy Wheeler, another parent who called police after reading the post, said she was glad that authorities intervened before school started Wednesday.

Wheeler said she monitors her son's Facebook page and read the post. She thought the post was serious enough to call the police.

“You have to take it seriously — anything like that,” Wheeler said.

Dan Hall, director of security for Muskogee Public Schools, said he was contacted by Muskogee police about 10 p.m. Tuesday. They requested an address for a student who had made threats on Facebook, he said. A few minutes later, police informed Hall that the student was in custody.

School was in session for the seventh- and eighth-grade students at the junior high Wednesday. Burton said an announcement was not made at the school, but counselors and other administrators were available to talk to students about the situation.

Some students have discussed the issue with administrators, "but for the most part, the kids seem to be fine, and they are moving on as usual,” Burton said.

School administrators also were trying to continue with the regular schedule.

“We’re trying to make sure that it's not too disruptive,” Burton said, added that the students are taking state tests.

Mahan said police did not recover any weapons during their investigation.

“We are currently finishing up an investigation into the alleged threat and will be submitting a case to the Muskogee County District Attorney’s office for prosecution,” he said.

Reach Anita Reding at (918) 684-2903 or areding@muskogeephoenix.com.