Prescott Valley teen accused of school threats

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by Jennifer Thomas

Video report by Kristine Harrington

Posted on December 3, 2013 at 4:45 PM

Updated Tuesday, Dec 10 at 1:13 PM

Map: Franklin Phonetic School

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PRESCOTT VALLEY, Ariz. -- Prescott Valley police say a 15-year-old boy threatened to shoot people at a school he used to attend, but investigators were able to take him into custody before he could carry out his threats.

On Nov. 22, staff from the Franklin Phonetic School called Prescott Valley police to report threatening and offensive emails that were sent to the school, according to Sgt. Brandon Bonney.

Principal Rebecca Fitch explains that the first email came through the comment section on the school's website.

"It was kind of more threatening toward the founders of the school," says Fitch.

Then, on Dec. 2, the school received a significantly more troubling email that referenced threats to shoot up the school or bomb it, Bonney said.

"This email was much more pointed," Bonney says. "It actually contained some direct threats toward the school, and at one point actually indicated that they had plans to shoot up the school."

A student also reported a Facebook message he received that threatened violence at the school. Luckily, that student reported it to his parents, administrators and police.

"One of the hardest things is to teach junior high kids to tell when something is going on because they don't want to be snitches; don't want to get friends in trouble," says Fitch.

But in this case, that student likely saved lives, because police believe the threats were no joke.

"They did find him with 100 rounds of ammunition and actively trying to get a firearm to carry it out," says Bonney. "Just very fortunate he had not gotten his hands on that firearm as of yet."

The sender also alluded to being a member of a gang, which is believed to be fictitious.

Police and school officials immediately took measures to protect the students.

Police detectives worked very closely with GIITEM (the Arizona State Gang Taskforce) and ACTIC (Arizona Counter Terrorism Information Center) to locate the origin of the emails and identify the offender.

The investigation led authorities to a residence in the 3100 block of Meadowlark Drive in Prescott Valley.

Investigators interviewed the suspect and said he made several incriminating statements.

Bonney said the suspect admitted to researching how to make a handgun and an explosive device but was unable to procure the parts.

Bonney said the suspect also told investigators he had intentions to shoot individuals at Franklin Phonetic School because he was angry with them for various reasons.

Police said it appears the teen was a past student at the school

The teen was booked into the Yavapai County Juvenile Detention Center for one count of hoax, one count of threatening and intimidating and one count of disruption of an educational institution.

"This school immediately reported the threats and worked with police officials to resolve the threat," Bonney said in a press release. "An adult and juvenile from the community who saw internet posts related to this also spoke up, giving critical information to law enforcement to intervene and stop this event from happening."

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