Two Franklin Pierce High School students were arrested and accused of making threats against their school and its administrators this week.
Both 16-year-old boys pleaded not guilty to the crime of felony harassment in juvenile court Tuesday, and both were detained at Remann Hall until their next court appearance Tuesday, a spokeswoman for the Pierce County prosecutor’s office said. The News Tribune typically does not name juvenile defendants.
The first threat was reported Monday by concerned students at the school near Parkland. Students heard a boy speaking to another student Monday, threatening to harm or kill the school principal and two other administrators, according to charging documents from the Pierce County prosecutor’s office.
At first, other students thought the boy’s threats were a joke, but they said he continued making them and began pounding on a classroom table in anger, according to charging documents.
He later told police he was only joking and expressing his frustration about school, the documents say.
On Monday evening, another boy tweeted that he was the one who would be “shooting up the school tomorrow,” according to a news release from the prosecutor. Several students told their parents about the threat and parents called police.
When police contacted him, the boy said he was joking about the threats, the release said.
Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist said in the news release that his office takes threats to the safety of students seriously.
“While this may have been ill-conceived humor, it’s still a crime. Parents should talk to their children about the perils of social media,” Lindquist said.
Franklin Pierce School District spokesman Willie Painter said classes started on time Tuesday and that, as a precaution, there was an increased police presence in the district.
He also said that if parents chose to keep students home from the high school Tuesday because of safety concerns, those absences would be considered excused.
The incidents happened just three days after two students were fatally shot in a school shooting in Snohomish County. Jaylen Fryberg, 15, pulled out a handgun in the Marysville-Pilchuck High School cafeteria and shot five students, then himself.