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'It's not funny;' Sheriff, district team up to stop school threats

KEARNS, Utah (News4Utah) - The student charged with terroristic threats - after he allegedly posted a photo with a rifle and warned students not to come to school - laughed when police explained to him why he was in trouble, said Sgt. Melody Gray with Unified Police. 

"He doesn't get it," said Gray, who was dumbfounded when the student seemed to find the threat funny. "He had no concept of how serious it was.

Gray said parents she encounters are not doing enough to monitor children's social media accounts. 

Sunday, the 13-year-old 8th grader at Thomas Jefferson Junior High School in Kearns was accused of posting a photo with a rifle on the popular social media app Snapchat. The message on the photo warned students "not to come to school Monday," according to Unified Police Lt. Brian Lohrke. 

Though the gun in the photo was later determined to be an airsoft rifle, the student was charged with making terroristic threats, a third-degree felony. 

Now, Salt Lake County Sheriff Rosie Rivera said it's time for students to realize that posts on social media can carry serious consequences, especially if those posts are threatening in any way. 

"It's not funny," Rivera said in a news conference Tuesday. "We have zero tolerance for joking when it comes to public safety."

The student reportedly told police he was joking when he sent the Snapchat photo to several friends. Rivera told reporters a student alerted police about the post. 

"That student should be commended," Rivera said, reminding everyone to be vigilant. 

Granite School District spokesperson Ben Horsley said the district is taking the incident and others like it very seriously. In January, the district received 52 tips of threats, and a "handful" of them regarded "planned school attacks."

VIDEO OF PRESS CONFERENCE 

Since the Parkland, Florida school shooting, district officials said there's "a lot of fear" among parents and students alike within the district.

The Sheriff's office and Granite School District said they plan to organize a campaign to educate kids about the consequences of questionable communications on social media and other platforms. 

Rivera said her department plans to create an educational video to be shared in local schools. Horsley said Granite School District will be rolling out a social media campaign in the hope of preventing students from making future social media threats. 


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