District attorney drops criminal charge against Free State student accused of threat

photo by: Mike Yoder

Free State High School

A criminal case against a Free State High School student who reportedly told police he’d had thoughts of “shooting up a school” has been dismissed.

After the teen successfully completed an Immediate Intervention Program — similar to getting a diversion in an adult case — with Douglas County Youth Services, the Douglas County District Attorney’s Office dismissed his charges in late February, Cheryl Wright Kunard, assistant to the DA, confirmed via email.

Kunard declined to share details about what the DA’s office required of the teen, but said such plans are “individually geared towards the specific juvenile’s charges and needs.”

In March 2018, the teen — then a junior at Free State High, 4700 Overland Drive — was charged as a juvenile with making a criminal threat, a felony.

The charge stemmed from a Snapchat message he sent to a girl on Feb. 19, 2018, stating, “it’s about time to kill your friends,” according to a police affidavit previously reported on by the Journal-World.

When police interviewed the teen that night, he told them he had sent the message but didn’t have a plan to hurt anyone, according to the affidavit. Police wrote that the teen also said he was suicidal, had attempted suicide recently and that he had had thoughts of “shooting up a school.”

At a court hearing following the boy’s arrest, his parents told the judge their son had autism spectrum disorder, suffered from severe depression, was on multiple medications and was involved in ongoing therapy. They said he did not have access to guns at either of their homes.

The FSHS student’s Snapchat threat occurred five days after the high school shooting in Parkland, Fla., which left 17 dead on Feb. 14, 2018.

The night the post was reported, district officials informed FSHS parents about the incident.

A district spokeswoman said the following day that a student had made an “indirect threat” about killing people, though the school principal described the boy’s actions as “threatening a school shooting.” They said police had detained the student and that appropriate disciplinary action would be taken by the district but, citing student privacy laws, did not specify what was done.

A Douglas County District Court judge ordered the boy to remain detained until mid-April 2018, when he was released on house arrest, court records indicate. His house-arrest was lifted in mid-May 2018. His intervention plan was filed in October 2018.

The Journal-World contacted the school district seeking his enrollment status Tuesday but didn’t immediately receive a response.

Contact Journal-World public safety reporter Sara Shepherd


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