Two Oxford High School students were suspended and could potentially face criminal charges after they allegedly sent threatening Snapchat messages to classmates.
The Oakland County Sheriff’s Office investigated and determined that neither student was in possession of any weapons or had any access to them.
On Friday morning at approximately 7:28 a.m., an anonymous email was sent to OHS Assistant Principal Kurt Nuss regarding an alleged threat that had been made via social media the previous night.
On Snapchat, the two suspects were reported to have exchanged messages referencing the 1999 Columbine High School massacre in Colorado and implying that there would be a shooting at OHS, according to the sheriff’s office.
The information, including the names of the suspects, was forwarded to the sheriff’s office, which took immediate action.
According to the report, the first student, a 17-year-old Pontiac resident, had allegedly been communicating with another student, an 18-year-old Brandon Twp. resident, via Snapchat when the Brandon resident allegedly sent a meme/video of the shootings at Columbine High School. The Pontiac resident allegedly replied via Snapchat by stating, “Ha-ha, don’t come to school tomorrow.”
This threat was forwarded across social media to several students, some of whom later indicated they were afraid to come to school.
No weapons were found when deputies searched the Pontiac resident’s vehicle parked at Walton Charter Academy in Pontiac.
In a later interview with deputies, the Brandon resident allegedly admitted that he had sent a photo to other students, but “that the picture had nothing to do with Columbine.” He told deputies that the picture was of another student at school, but “that there was nothing threatening about it,” according to the report. When asked by deputies whether he had access to weapons, the Brandon resident allegedly stated that he did not have access to any weapons.
In response to this incident, Oxford Community Schools released a statement, reminding parents to have a conversation with their children to ensure they understand the ramifications of any threats made to the school or to the community.
“The district handles all threats seriously. When it comes to student safety, there are no ‘jokes’ or ‘just goofing around.’ The safety of our Oxford students and staff continues to be our highest priority… We need the help of our entire community to keep our schools safe,” the statement read.
This investigation continues but the threat does not appear to be credible at this time, according to Oakland County Sheriff’s Lt. Scott Patterson, commander of the Oxford Township substation.
Under Michigan law, the two students could be charged with “making a terrorist threat.” The law states, “A person is guilty of making a terrorist threat” if he or she “threatens to commit an act of terrorism and communicates the threat to any other person.”
Someone convicted of this crime, which is a felony, can face up to 20 years in prison and/or a fine of not more than $20,000.
“Not (having) the intent or capability of committing the act” is “not a defense to a prosecution,” the law states.
Patterson encouraged all students who become aware of threatening or suspicious behavior by their peers to take fast-action when it comes to alerting investigative officials.
“Bring these things to the attention of staff, security or the school liasion officer right away… A lot of kids don’t want to get involved in these things to a certain degree. These things snowball and it’s a lot better to catch them and deal with them right away. You never know in today’s (day and) age what could happen and you want to deal with it early on,” Patterson said.