The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Local News

December 10, 2013

Second Shady student arrested in threats case

SHADY SPRING — A second student has been arrested and charged with making terroristic threats against Shady Spring High School.

The student was taken into custody Thursday morning at the school, following a continuing investigation by Raleigh County Sheriff’s detectives. The first student involved was arrested Dec. 1.

Chief of Detectives Lt. Larry Lilly said it appears that the two students were planning an attack on classmates, although the plan apparently was in the beginning stages when another school official/parent noticed a threat on Instagram and reported it to Shady Spring Principal Daniel Moye on Dec. 1.

One of the students — one police characterized as the ringleader — was arrested immediately.

The threats made references to Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo., where two male students shot to death 12 fellow students and a teacher on April 20, 1999.

“We’ve been on this nonstop since (Dec. 1),” said Lilly. “It appears there may have been something planned, well into the future, but there wasn’t an immediate danger.

“The investigation uncovered some pretty scary and serious things.

“I know we were able to prevent anything, had they had legitimate plans to do something,” Lilly added.

April may have been a target time, although the year was unclear, according to statements by officials.

According to Lilly, police had talked to the second student “a couple times prior to” taking him into custody.

The student’s name was part of the initial investigation, but police did not have enough evidence to make an arrest until Thursday.

“Once the investigation went further, and we knew the juvenile was at least somewhat involved in the threats, then the juvenile was taken into custody,” said Lilly. “He was picked up at the school Thursday morning.”

It appeared the two students were friends or at least acquaintances, he added.

No more arrests are expected, Lilly said.

Was there a threat to student safety Monday through Thursday?

“It didn’t appear that that (second) student would’ve had the means to execute it, even if he was planning on doing it,” explained Lilly. “Based on what we know, the plan wasn’t to do it right then, anyway.

“The answer to that would be ‘no’.”

The student did not have weapons when he was arrested, added Lilly.

It was unclear whether the student was in school Dec. 2-4.

Around half of the 850 students at Shady High were kept home Wednesday, one day after parents learned via local news and Facebook of the Sunday arrest.

Parents said students had reported that more than one student was involved in making the threats.

Some parents had expressed concern last week that school officials hadn’t notified them of the Sunday arrest.

Raleigh Schools Superintendent Jim Brown and Principal Moye had reassured parents Wednesday that no threat had existed on Dec. 2, one day after the first student’s arrest.

On Wednesday evening, Shady administrators sent a message to parents’ phones reminding them that school would be conducted as usual Thursday.

Around 10 a.m. Friday, Brown sent an automated call to parents alerting them that security had been highlighted, that school would continue as usual and that all extracurricular activities were on schedule.

No mention was made of the Thursday arrest, according to two Shady parents.

After learning of Thursday’s arrest, parent Frank Almond said Monday, “My kid had told me another student had been arrested.

“I took it for what it was. Now I know.”

- - -

Brown said Monday that he learned of the arrest Thursday as police were executing it, although it had not been clear to him that the student was arrested while at school.

However, school officials had worked closely with law enforcement since Dec. 1 to stay alert to any possible dangers to students.

“Is there evidence that suggests the school was ever in danger? No,” said Brown.  “Looking at all the information presented here, there was not an immediate threat in that school.”

Brown praised Raleigh Sheriff’s officers, Moye, Assistant Principal David Wills and Woodrow Wilson High School Assistant Principal Eric Dillon.

Dillon learned of the threat on Instagram at a Dec. 1 community event and notified Moye and Wills, who contacted law enforcement that night, said Brown.

“I think what this exemplifies is the fact that if a student is going to make a threat that endangers or puts the safety of any student or employee in Raleigh schools in question, we’re going to exhaust every avenue the law affords us to make sure that threat is removed from the school system,” he said.

Brown and Lilly encouraged students, parents and others in the community to be vigilant about reporting threats, even if they’re unsure of whether the threats are made seriously.

By law, making a threat is a felony.

“We’re not going to tolerate this behavior in our schools,” said Lilly.

He added that officers are grateful to the community for alerting officers to the threats.

Brown said he’d been informed by Raleigh Sheriff’s officials that the investigation is now closed.

Brown added he had not been notified, prior to an interview with The Register-Herald on Monday, that the student had been arrested on school grounds.

—  E-mail: jfarrish@register-herald.com

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