PCMS

Police questioned a Perry County Middle School student over the weekend regarding a social media post in which the youth expressed a possible terroristic threat toward the school.

According to a report from the Perryville Police Department, once notified of the threat Saturday afternoon, officers and detectives immediately opened an investigation.

The Perryville Police Department, along with Perry County School District 32’s school resource officer and juvenile authorities investigated a…

The post included an image of a rubber-band gun that appears to have been taken in one of the middle school classrooms with a message that says “Gonna shoot up the school, don’t come on Monday,” followed by “To all u people that take stuff series (sic) this is what u call a joke.”

By the time police began investigating, the post had been removed, but officers were able to identify the owner of the account.

According to the police department's public information officer, Cpl. Jeri Cain, the student was brought to the police station by a family member and was interviewed.

During the interview it was determined the student had posted the photo as a “joke” and had no intention of harming anyone.  It was also determined the student does not have access to any firearms.

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The student was then referred to the juvenile for determination of any possible criminal charges.

According to a news release from Perry County School District, of which the middle school is a part, the post was referred to school personnel by another student, and then notified the police.

“Posts and statements like this are no joke,” Superintendent Andy Comstock said. “These things can result in criminal charges, discipline from school which may include expulsion, and more importantly spread fear through our schools and our community.”

Comstock also released a video message to students and parents in response to the incident.

“It’s my promise to you that I will do everything in my power to keep our kids safe at school, but I need your help," Comstock said in the video, addressing his comments to district parents. "I need you to check backpacks. I need you to tell your children that words matter and some things are never a joke. I need you to speak up and support your school when we follow the law and policy to protect our campus and our children.”

To the students, Comstock said they shouldn't have to worry about not feeling safe.

“I want you to feel safe and be safe when you come to school," Comstock said. "Your only worry should be about doing your best in class, and it breaks my heart that you have to worry about threats and bad jokes.”

Saturday's incident was the sixth involving a potential threat or a gun at PCSD since January 2018.

In the first instance, on Feb. 14, 2018, officers were made aware of a possible threat of school violence. An investigation into that instance deemed the threat was "non-credible."

Later that same month, an elementary school student was found to be in possession of what was determined to be a toy gun at school.

A few weeks later, in March, a substitute teacher was removed from campus after students noticed a firearm in plain sight in the teacher's car.

In September 2018, an elementary school student was removed from campus after a school staff member found in the student's backpack. No ammunition was found in the classroom or backpack, and the student made no threatening statements.

In March, three Perryville High School students were removed from campus after they were overheard discussing a potential school shooting. One of the students, Rylan Carlson, 18, of Perryville, was charged with felony terroristic threatening in the second degree. The charge was later reduced to misdemeanor disturbing the peace and he received two years probation.

According to the release from the district, PCSD "will follow our policies and procedures in this matter."

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