DEKALB – A 13-year-old boy has been charged with disorderly conduct and released after police said he posted a threat on social media involving DeKalb public schools.
Classes resumed about 9:30 a.m. in DeKalb School District 428 after a districtwide soft lockdown, but some high school students opted to leave, despite police having determined a threat made on Snapchat was a hoax. Their parents or guardians had to sign them out, however, to District 428 Superintendent Jamie Craven said. Craven said he did not have an estimate of how many students left early, but said they would not need to make up the day later in the year.
DeKalb police learned of a possible threat involving someone bringing guns to a school about 7:15 a.m. Friday after a parent or caregiver brought it to their attention, according to a news release from the DeKalb Police Department. The threat was posted on Snapchat, and it identified the high school and middle schools.
In an email to parents, DeKalb High School Principal James Horne said the post is a picture of a threat stating “at 2pm no one is safe here” and that it’s been making its way around social media.
Police were stationed at every school in the district, and the schools were placed under soft lockdowns, as police investigated the threat to determine its credibility and its source, the release said.
A 13-year-old boy, who is enrolled in the district, told police he saw a similar message posted in a different state and decided to send a message via Snapchat in DeKalb, DeKalb police Cmdr. Craig Woodruff said.
The boy went on to say the message was a hoax and there was never a credible threat of violence in DeKalb schools.
Police would not provide what school the student was attending.
Authorities continued the investigation to ensure no weapons are linked to the boy and that his behavior was dealt with appropriately Friday, according to the release. He was charged with disorderly conduct and released to his parents, Woodruff said.
It was not clear Friday whether the student still is enrolled in the school district. Craven said he could not speak to students’ personal matters.
“All I can share is that we will take appropriate actions,” Craven said.
The alleged threat came a day after Clinton Rosette had its dismissal delayed because of an almost four-hour standoff involving a DeKalb man near the school.
Parents and students poured out of DeKalb High School about 9:45 a.m. Friday, after the all-clear was given. Some parents had come to pick up their children, but sophomore Tirzah Harms said if students had cars, they were free to leave.
High school students had mixed feelings about the lockdown as rumors circulated, Harms said.
“In my classroom, they were [scared],” Harms said. “We were hearing different things.”
One rumor that spread across social media was that a bag of ammunition had been found, but Woodruff said police did not find any ammunition.
The investigation comes after last week’s school shooting in Parkland, Florida, in which 17 students and teachers were killed, as well as the arrest of a Genoa 18-year-old who told a Kishwaukee Education Consortium secretary Friday he was going to get his “goons and shoot up the school.”
Regino Mercado was arrested Wednesday and has been banned from the school.
Staff members in all District 428 schools are trained and prepared for situations such as the one that happened Friday morning, Craven said, but he is saddened by the fact that they need to be.
“None of us take this job lightly,” Craven said. “To have to worry about some of the things we have to worry about today is concerning.”
The Northern Illinois University and Cortland police departments and the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office assisted DeKalb police Friday.