How local police chiefs are handling school threats

O’FALLON, Ill. – A 15-year-old from O’Fallon, Illinois remains jailed Wednesday, accused of threatening to shoot up an elementary school there.

He’s a former student in O’Fallon, but was not a student at the school at the time of the alleged crime, authorities said.

St. Clair County State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly announced the following juvenile charges against the teen Wednesday: making a terroristic threat, attempting to make a terroristic threat, disorderly conduct, and criminal defacement of property.

Authorities did not release his name. Though the teen will not be certified to stand trial as an adult, he may face an additional adult sentence if convicted, Kelly said.

Police got a report of ripped window screens and a threat written on a window of Hinchcliffe Elementary School in O’Fallon Monday morning.  It was a threat that someone wanted to shoot up the school, said O’Fallon Police Chief, Eric Van Hook.

In the wake of the Valentine's Day school massacre in Parkland, Florida, police put Hinchliffe on lockdown and called in extra officers to secure that school and others in the district. Parents at all District 90 schools were allowed to take their children home out of concern for their safety.

This is the second such case to be charged in the juvenile court system in St. Clair County in the past two weeks, Kelly said.  The other involved a threat on social media.

The suspect in the O’Fallon confessed but had no means of carrying out the threat and it was a joke, Van Hook said.

The charges came on the same day prosecutors, police chiefs, and sheriffs, across the state of Illinois, issued a statement saying school threats were crimes, not jokes; no exceptions.