2 San Tan Valley cheerleaders suspended over alleged school hit list

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by Jennifer Thomas

Video report by Kristine Harrington

Posted on March 6, 2013 at 9:55 AM

Updated Friday, Mar 8 at 12:20 PM

Map: Cheerleader hit list

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SAN TAN VALLEY, Ariz. -- Pinal County sheriff's deputies are questioning two San Tan Valley students accused of posting a hit list online.

The students involved are cheerleaders. One of the girls is a sophomore at Poston Butte High School and the other is an eighth-grader at Walker Butte K-8 in the Florence Unified School District.

Both students have been suspended.

A parent spotted the list on Instagram Tuesday night and tipped off school officials.

In a phone call to parents, district officials said nine students and a teacher were on the list.

"They basically created it as a hit list and that's what they titled it as and they basically listed the people who they dislike," said Tim Gaffney with the Pinal County Sheriff's Office.

Gaffney said there was a picture of a pistol next to the hit list.

"We're taking it very seriously," he said. "The school district's taking it very seriously."

Gaffney said the two students were "pretty hysterical" when they were brought in for questioning. They told deputies that they weren't planning to harm anyone.

Investigators are trying to determine what occurred and what the intent was, according to Gaffney.

Both students could face charges of threatening and intimidating.

According to district officials, neither student has a history of disciplinary incidents.

Parents in the school district received the following message:

A message from FLORENCE UNIFIED SCHOOL DIST 1

Good morning, parents and staff. This is Dana Hawman, Director of Public Relations for Florence Unified School District calling about a "hit list" involving students and a teacher at Poston Butte High School and Walker Butte K-8. We are sending this message district-wide, as the current environment virtually assures that the story will be picked up by the media, and we want you to have the facts up front.

Late last evening, a parent contacted Dr. Pappalardo and Mr. Allee by email, notifying them of a hit list that two students had posted on Instagram.

Nine students who attend Poston Butte or Walker Butte and one teacher from Poston Butte were on the list; one of the students who created the list attends Poston Butte and the other is a student at Walker Butte.

Administrators met with the Pinal County Sheriff's Department very early this morning and sheriff’s deputies are actively involved. Parents of all students concerned, those who created the list and those who were on it, have been or are currently being contacted. Both initiators are already being questioned by deputies.

Neither student has a history of disciplinary incidents; however ALL threats are taken very seriously, and both students will be suspended pending a hearing.

We thank the parent who brought this to our attention for her part in keeping all of our children safe.

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