A Miami Trace Middle School student was charged with juvenile delinquency for allegedly posting a bomb threat directed at other students on social media Thursday morning.
An Instagram account called “bombthreatmiamitrace” threatened to bomb several students and listed their names, according to Miami Trace Superintendent David Lewis. The school district was already on a two-hour delay for extreme cold temperatures on Thursday and after the threat was discovered, the decision was made to close the campus for the day.
“We were alerted by the middle school staff at around 7:30 a.m. of the social media post,” said Lewis. “We take all threats seriously, therefore, as a precautionary measure we closed our district.”
After the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office (FCSO), with the assistance of K-9 bomb-sniffing dogs from various agencies, searched the buildings on campus, it was determined at around noon that the campus was safe. Subsequent investigation by the FCSO resulted in a the charge against the juvenile suspect, whose name is not being released at this time.
“More details of the arrest will be forthcoming as the investigation continues,” said Sheriff Vernon Stanforth. “Even before the campus was swept, we were confident that nothing was in the buildings but we wanted to make sure that the common areas had not been compromised. The search showed that the campus is safe. We are very confident based on the technology we utilized and the evidence collected that the juvenile charged today was responsible for (Thursday’s) threat.”
Stanforth said the juvenile was charged with juvenile delinquency for allegedly inducing panic.
Miami Trace is no stranger to these social media disturbances. Two similar bomb threats – on Sept. 19, 2017 and Oct. 16, 2017 – were made against the district. The FCSO has been investigating the threats since they were made.
“We are currently looking into if the same juvenile is connected to the previous social media threats,” said Stanforth. “This is a very complicated investigation. We don’t go by rumors and what the latest gossip is on Facebook. Our investigation has to be systematic and we have to be certain when we make an arrest.”
The juvenile suspect was being detained Thursday at the Ross County Juvenile Detention Center. The juvenile is expected to appear possibly as soon as Friday in Fayette County Juvenile Court. The student also has been suspended from school for 10 days and a expulsion hearing will most likely be scheduled, according to authorities.
Miami Trace was expected to reopen for classes on Friday.
“The investigation is ongoing and district officials will continue to work with local law enforcement throughout the process to determine both legal and educational consequences,” said Lewis. “It has been determined that the threats were not credible and no students were in danger. District facilities were searched and deemed safe for the return of staff and students.”
As a result of closing the district due to multiple threats this school year, students and parents were informed in October that any additional days lost would be made up throughout the year. Because of Thursday’s closing, school now will be in session on Presidents’ Day, which is Monday, Feb. 19.
“Hopefully we are able to put this behind us, we can move forward and the community can be assured that our school district is safe,” said Lewis.
Reach Ryan Carter at 740-313-0352 or on Twitter @rywica