Charges over social media ‘threat’

February 4, 2019

PORTER – Two Duneland Schools students were being held in the Porter County Juvenile Detention Center on Friday after police said photos of the boys with guns appeared on social media, along with a statement reading “I’m going to shoot up the school.”

The Porter, Chesterton and Valparaiso police departments all investigated the incident, which began with a 13-year-old Chesterton Middle School student, police said. The boy was visiting family in Valparaiso when he told Siri on his iPhone, “I am going shoot up a school,” according to a statement from Valparaiso Police.

The boy then posted a screenshot of his statement and Siri’s response – which was to identify several schools in Valparaiso – to social media, with photos of himself and a 14-year-old friend holding guns, police said.

His social media contacts shared the information with Chesterton Police, who contacted authorities in Valparaiso, police there said.

Porter police later interviewed the older boy, who admitted being in the photos, possibly taken in the fall of 2018, but said he no longer had weapons and was not involved in the threat, Porter police said in a statement.

“It has since been discovered the male has no access to weapons and posted the picture on social media as a joke,” Valparaiso Police said in a statement. “The threat is not believed to be credible at this time; however, these types of communications are taken very seriously...”

Both boys were taken to the Juvenile Detention Center on a felony charge of intimidation, Valparaiso Police said. The 14-year-old is also facing a felony charge of criminal recklessness with a handgun, Porter Police said, because the photos with firearms were taken and stored on his phone.

“The stated threat made no direct threat to any specific school,” Porter Police said in a statement, however, these threats are obviously taken very seriously and handled accordingly.”

—From staff reports