Recent WCS school threats prompt police investigations

By: Brian Louwers, Maria Allard | Warren Weekly | Published March 2, 2018

WARREN — At press time, one Warren Consolidated Schools middle school student was facing a 20-year felony for making a threat at school while two other middle school students in the district were under investigation for also issuing threats.

In light of the school shootings that have occurred nationwide — the most recent on Feb. 14, in which 17 students and staff were killed by gunfire in Florida — WCS officials took all three incidents very seriously and turned over their findings to the Warren Police Department.

On March 1, WCS Superintendent Robert Livernois distributed a letter to the school community regarding a Carter Middle School student who was the author of what he called a “kill list” of students he was upset with at school. The threats were reportedly made Feb. 27.

Warren Police Commissioner Bill Dwyer confirmed that a 12-year-old student was identified and questioned by detectives after a letter containing “non-specific threats to teachers and students” was brought to the attention of school officials on the morning of Feb. 27.

Dwyer said a responsible student alerted a teacher about a “kill list” letter written by a seventh-grade student.

“We have conducted multiple interviews with the student. The school and the Police Department have identified the student responsible and are working together to determine the level of the threat.”

Dwyer said the student, who was not named, has been suspended pending further action by the district. He said the student was interviewed by police and released to his parents, who have cooperated fully with the investigation, and that a search warrant was executed at the home to ensure the student had no access to weapons.

A request to have the student remanded to the custody of Macomb County juvenile authorities was reportedly denied.

Dwyer said police have requested authorization of a warrant on a terrorism threat charge, punishable by up to 20 years in prison. A determination on what charge the student will face will be made by Macomb County prosecutors.

Another incident involving an alleged second, unrelated threat at Carter, near Hoover and Masonic, was announced in the March 1 letter from Livernois.

He stated that another Carter student “made a very poor decision by issuing a threat against the school via social media this morning.” According to the letter, “the student has been identified, is out of school, has been referred to the Warren police and will likely face very serious criminal charges.”

A third student, who attends Beer Middle School, was identified for making “concerning statements” Feb. 27.

Brent Bott, director of security and crisis management for WCS, said the Beer student’s comments were posted on the social media site Snapchat. Because the Beer matter was still under investigation at press time, Bott could not comment on what the “concerning statement” was. Because of district policies, he also could not confirm whether or not the students from the Feb. 27 incidents were still attending school or not.

Parents and community members are strongly advised to inform school personnel if they hear of a threat or something doesn’t seem right. Students also are encouraged to speak up.

“The first thing they can do is notify a teacher, an administrator or an adult of what happened,” Bott said.

Once school officials receive the information, local police — either Warren, Sterling Heights or Troy, depending on the school’s location — are notified. Each incident is investigated and the family is notified. Once the police investigation has been conducted, the matter is turned over to the  local prosecutor’s office.

In the Feb. 27 incidents, parents and students contacted the district directly, Bott said.

Suspicious situations can also be reported through the OK2SAY program at 2say. OK2SAY allows anyone to confidentially report tips on criminal activities or potential harm directed at Michigan students, school employees or schools without having to give his or her name. The information is reported and investigated by law enforcement, schools, community mental health agencies and/or the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

“Parents, please take time TODAY to review with your children the seriousness of posting things on social media or saying things that will most certainly get them in trouble,” Livernois stated in the March 1 letter. “Also, continue to encourage your children to share difficult things with the adults in their lives, as it has been proven again to be our most effective tool.”