Crime

Tomah student arrested for terroristic threat

Tomah student arrested for...

TOMAH, Wis. (WKBT) - A school shooting may have been prevented in Tomah Friday morning, according to the Monroe County Sheriff's Department.

A 15-year-old Tomah high school student was arrested Friday after he posted what the sheriff's department is calling a terroristic threat on Snapchat, a social network mobile app.

The school district and law enforcement agencies say working together this morning was key in defusing any potential danger.

"In reality, this very well could have been a tragedy in the city of Tomah,” Monroe County Sheriff Scott Perkins said.

Before school was in session Friday morning, Tomah High School Principal Robert Joyce received a call about a possible threat to the school.

The 15-year-old student posted a Snapchat picture of himself. He then used the app to add a handgun picture onto his post, along with a caption.

Joyce said the caption read, “’When you realized you're a school shooter.’ Then ‘#dontcometoschooltomorrow.' So that raised immediate concerns for us."

Joyce said dealing with students' social media use can be tricky.

"You don't know if it’s a joke or serious,” he said. "This one was pretty extreme, though."

School administrators and law enforcement officials wanted to make sure the student never had a chance to enter the building.

"Our student liaison officer contacted the bus garage to make sure the student hadn't gotten on the bus yet,” Joyce said.

Perkins said the Monroe County Sheriff's Department arrested the boy before 7:30 a.m., and Perkins credits a community member for speaking up and notifying the Tomah Police Department.

"If you do see something, say something,” he said.

Perkins said in this case, the school district, Sheriff's Department, Tomah Police Department, and county Human Services Department all worked together to prevent a potential tragedy.

“If we wouldn't have taken this seriously, we could have ended up possibly having a school shooting,” he said. “We don't know, and I’m glad we'll never know."

Perkins said because the boy is 15 years old, the Monroe County Department of Human Services will determine any charges in this case. He is currently in a juvenile detention facility.

Tomah school district students were notified over the public address system about the situation Friday morning, and before school let out were reminded to always speak up if they notice anything suspicious.

The school sent out a letter explaining the situation to parents, and according to Tomah High School officials, they'll review how they handled this situation in their crisis meetings, which they hold on a regular basis.

As far as security measures go, Tomah High School has a series of locked doors and a check-in person in the building's entrance, and it also runs intruder drills.


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