O’FALLON, Ill. • A 15-year-old boy is facing charges of making and attempting to make a terror threat after he allegedly wrote on a school window “I’m going to shoot this (expletive) up.”
The charges against the teen were announced by officials on Wednesday, two days after the message was found scrawled on a window at Hinchcliffe Elementary School. The boy is also charged with disorderly conduct and criminal defacement of property.
He appeared in St. Clair County Juvenile Court for a reading of the charges and was then sent to the St. Clair County Juvenile Detention Center, police said.
School and law-enforcement officials announced the charges at a press conference Wednesday afternoon at the O’Fallon police station.
Police Chief Eric Van Hook said that since the message was found his department has been fielding calls from parents asking what can be done to keep their children safe in schools.
“The sad part of this is that it was a joke,” Van Hook said. “He had no intention of carrying it out.”
St. Clair County State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly called the message left at the school a serious threat.
“Making a threat, even if you think that it’s merely a joke, that is a crime to do so,” Kelly said.
Officials said the teen, who wasn’t identified because he is a juvenile, is undergoing a mental evaluation. Kelly wouldn’t rule out adult charges being brought against him, depending on what the evaluation finds.
He pointed out that the case is the second in St. Clair County this year involving school-related threats. In February, Cahokia police arrested a 14-year-old in an investigation of threats of school violence made on social media.
Kelly and others at the press conference said county officials have zero tolerance for school threats and would pursue the strongest possible charges in such cases.
O’Fallon Superintendent Carrie Hruby said half of the students at the school at 1050 Ogle Road in were picked up by worried parents on Monday.
“It sent fear and panic throughout the community,” Hruby said.
Mayor Herb Roach said city and school district officials had met on Wednesday to discuss how to keep students safe.
“You hate to have something like this to occur,” he said in an interview before the press conference. “If you can’t have a safe environment in the schools then where can you have it. How can they learn?”