HAMMOND — A 14-year-old boy was arrested on a count of terrorizing after posting a threat to Hammond schools online early Tuesday morning, according to authorities.
The FBI alerted local law enforcement upon discovering an image on a social media site of a cartoon character holding an AK-47 with a caption warning people not to go to school in Hammond “tomorrow,” Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff Daniel Edwards and Hammond Police Chief Roddy Devall said in a Tuesday news conference.
Investigators tracked the IP address of the poster and arrested the unnamed teen at his home about 9 a.m. Tuesday.
Devall said it was unclear if the boy had access to firearms but said authorities do not believe he intended to open fire on any campus. Most likely, the child wanted a day off, the chief said.
The 14-year-old was booked into the Florida Parishes Juvenile Detention Center on a count of terrorizing, Edwards said.
School and law enforcement leaders declined to provide additional information about the student, such as the school he attends, nor did they identify the website where he is accused of posting the suspicious image.
Devall described it as a bulletin board-type social media site but said he didn’t want to identify it by name so as not to give other youths any ideas.
Superintendent Mark Kolwe said officials have not yet determined how the accused boy will be punished by the school system.
Parish schools were not put under full lockdown, though administrators were notified of the investigation early Tuesday and encouraged to keep doors locked while teachers kept an eye out for any suspicious behavior, the superintendent said. Some parents kept their children at home.
The Police Department dispatched officers to about seven schools around Hammond, Devall said. Between the additional security and the investigation, the threat was a tremendous burden to the community, as officers, deputies and FBI agents were pulled off other duties, Edwards said.
“Our children just don’t understand what seriousness this is,” Devall said.
Officers also searched Hammond High after a report of a suspicious vehicle near campus Monday night, though investigators determined it was not connected to the online threat.
Kolwe said schools returned to normal operations by noon Tuesday.
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