The St. Tammany Parish Sheriff's Office arrested three students Tuesday for making threats at two Slidell-area junior high schools — the latest in a rash of arrests of students across the metro area accused of making threats following the deadly school shootings this month in Parkland, Florida.
A 14-year-old boy at Clearwood Junior High School in Slidell was arrested after he told a teacher he was going to bring a gun to school and shoot the teacher and his classmates. He allegedly told the teacher, in front of a class full of students, that he would then “shoot up the school," Meredith Timberlake, a spokeswoman for the Sheriff's Office, said in a news release.
The school contacted the Sheriff’s Office, and the student was taken to the Florida Parishes Juvenile Detention Center, where he was booked on a count of terrorizing.
A 12-year-old boy, also at Clearwood, was issued a summons for simple assault and released into the custody of a family member after he was overheard in a hallway saying he was going to bring a gun to school and shoot another student. A teacher overheard the comment, and the Sheriff’s Office was contacted.
A 15-year-old girl who attends Boyet Junior High was also arrested and booked on terrorizing after she posted a video on Snapchat that said there would be a murder, homicide and suicide at the school, Timberlake said. She also threatened to kill people, Timberlake said.
The Slidell Police Department was made aware of the video and contacted the Sheriff’s Office to investigate. The girl was booked into the Florida Parishes Juvenile Detention Center.
There were at least four arrests of students in the metro New Orleans area last week on allegations of making school-related threats. Two of them were over 18 and were booked as adults. Another two were cited for noncriminal offenses.
Jefferson Parish Sheriff Joe Lopinto said the number of complaints there recently has been “extreme,” going from one or two a month to as many as four in one day.
The principal of Boyet Junior High School, John Priola, sent out a robocall to parents Monday assuring them that rumors going around had been "thoroughly investigated" by the school and law enforcement and that they were unsubstantiated. "There is no threat to our school and there never has been," he said in the call.
The principal of Clearwood, Judi Camhout, sent a robocall to parents Tuesday afternoon that said three "situations" had been investigated by law enforcement officials that day and in each situation there was "no creditable threat."
She asked parents to talk to their children about school safety, adding that any comment made about a threat, even those made sarcastically or as a joke, "will be taken seriously" and law enforcement will be notified.
Daniel Seuzeneau, spokesman for the Slidell Police Department, said his agency has checked out many rumors since the Parkland massacre that killed 17 students and adults.
No weapons were located at either Slidell-area school. All three students will face expulsion hearings, Timberlake said.
Sheriff Randy Smith said his office takes all threats seriously.
“We will continue to actively investigate and take enforcement action whenever necessary in these cases, but we need parents’ help,” Smith said. “Talk to your children about the seriousness of making threats and statements that can be perceived as threats. If you or your child hears of a potential threat or sees one posted on social media, please call 911, and do not help to spread rumors by sharing and posting hearsay on social media.”
St. Tammany School Superintendent Trey Folse echoed that thought.
“The safety of students and staff is our priority, so each of these situations must be considered potential threats and have to be taken very seriously," Folse said. "Students must understand that we will contact law enforcement and there will be serious consequences."
Local police chiefs and Smith all met with Folse last week to talk about school safety following the Florida shootings.