The 17-year-old Springfield High School student arrested for posting threats against the school online pleaded guilty to a charge of inducing panic on Tuesday.
The female student, a junior at Springfield High, will be sentenced in Clark County Juvenile Court later this month and remains in juvenile detention.
The charges stem from a Feb. 22 incident when prosecutors said the teen posted a threatening message about a possible school shooting on Facebook under a fictitious account.
“I will not be telling people what my name is, but I will bring a gun to school tomorrow, so be prepared to hear shoots,” the threat said. “Yes, SHS is the school I want.”
The post quickly went viral, getting more than 11,000 shares on the site, some in other states, even after the account it was posted from was deleted.
“She caused a great deal of fear for the students at Springfield High School, as well as other high schools with the same initials across the United States,” Assistant Clark County Prosecutor Bill Merrell said in court.
Clark County Sheriff Deborah Burchett said the sheriff’s office received multiple calls from school districts in other counties regarding the post.
“It surprised me but I don’t think these kids realize what they are really doing when they make these threats,” she said.
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Springfield police presence was increased at the school the next day but attendance was light as many parents kept their children home in the wake of the threat. The Springfield Police Division, with assistance from the sheriff’s office, the Ohio Attorney General’s Office and the FBI, traced the post back to the Springfield teen, who was then arrested at the school the following morning.
Springfield City School District Superintendent Bob Hill said the district has spent millions in school security improvements and is working to create a “see something, say something” culture.
“In the Springfield City School District, I fully believe we have the most secure schools in Clark County,” he said. “We are working now with a group of parents, as well as our internal team to review our protocols, our policies and procedures to ensure that all of our students are safe.”
Hill said he believes school safety is a complicated societal issue.
“There’s no one solution and that’s the problem,” he said. “In society, we want a quick fix or a one-step solution that’s going to address this. This is not something that’s easily fixed.”
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Burchett said the sheriff’s office takes threats like these seriously and will do anything necessary in order to protect schools in the region.
“We aren’t going to stop,” she said. “If someone in this county makes a threat — or even if it is not in this county — if they make a threat toward our county, we are going to continue fighting until we find out and investigating until we find out who did it so they can be brought to justice.”