Police cracking down after increase in school threats since Parkland shooting

CHICAGO -- After the deadly school shooting in Parkland, Fla., that left 17 people dead, copycats have threatened violence at schools all across the country, and Illinois is no exception.

Based on a WGN review of news reports, there have been at least 15 threats of violence at schools in WGN’s viewing area alone since Feb. 14. Now, Illinois law enforcement officials are saying they won’t be cutting kids any slack, even if they think they’re pulling a harmless prank.

In late February, there was a rumor that someone had threatened Lane Tech High School. It was a false threat, but precautions were taken.
“There were policeman wearing vests and guns and it was terrifying having that at your school. It was terrifying, it was horrible,” Madison Bryant, a freshman, said.

According to the Educators School Safety Network, there have been more than 600 threats made against schools nationally in the weeks after the Parkland shooting.

In Illinois and northern Indiana, at least 15 schools have received threats in February and March.

Just this week, a student threatened to shoot up Chesteron High School.

From threats scribbled on bathroom stalls to Snapchats, schools in Illinois have been on high alert lately.

“People are paying closer attention. People are reporting things maybe they wouldn’t otherwise,” Amanda Klinger, Educators School Safety Network, said,

Now police are reminding students that it’s against the law to threaten violence at schools. If you think it’s like pulling the fire alarm, think again.

The Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police released a joint statement saying:

“Threatening violence at a school is a crime that is punishable by years in prison. In Illinois that means that threats of violence are no joke and those that make them will be investigated and prosecuted to the fullest extent of that law.”

Of the local threats, police have made arrests in two thirds of the incidents and most of those kids are now being charged with felonies even if they never intended to hurt anyone.

While the vast majority of the threats in Illinois since February have been social media hoaxes, police said they waste time and money and they’re scaring students.

Nationally in the fall of 2017 there were 10 incidents or threats per day. Since Parkland, there have been 70 a day—an increase of 600 percent.

Reported threats of violence since Feb. 14, 2018

Feb. 14 - Streamwood High School
Feb. 19 - Crown Point High School
Feb. 20 - Glenbrook North High School
Feb. 20 - Lake Park High School
Feb. 20 - Woodstock High School
Feb. 21 - Niles North High School bomb threat
Feb. 21 - Northwood Middle School
Feb. 22 - Lyons Township High School (School claims only rumor; no threat made)
Feb. 22 - Lane Tech High School (Precaution taken after Lyons threat due to school initials)
Feb. 22 - West Aurora High School
Feb. 26 - Mundelein High School
Feb. 27 - Minooka High School
Feb. 28 - Plainfield Central High School
March 5 - Chesterton High School
March 5 - Larkin High School
March 5 - Palatine High School
March 6 - Elgin High School