Former Cheney High student arrested for making shooting threat
Alert reporting of social media posts by pair of current students helps area police track down 16-year-old male
A 16-year-old former Cheney High School student was arrested on charges of felony harassment/threats to harm last Friday when two current students alerted authorities to a posting on a social media site showing him making threats against school.
According to a news release from the Cheney Police Department, the student, who no longer attends the high school and lives in Airway Heights, was seen on the media site late Thursday night, Jan. 30, holding a gun and indicating he was going to come to the high school and start shooting. The two current students saw the post and alerted their parents, who contacted the Police Department.
Cheney School District school resource officer and Cheney Police Sgt. Kelly Hembach said there might have been a couple media sites involved. The posting was eventually pulled off the site but not before parts of it were recorded and delivered to police.
“They do have the picture,” Hembach said last Friday.
Cheney Police requested the help of Airway Heights Police Department in locating the student, who was not at home but determined to be staying the night with a friend in Spokane Valley. Spokane Valley Police were asked to check the friend’s address where they located the suspect and took him into custody. He was subsequently booked into Spokane County Juvenile Detention by Cheney Police.
The suspect told officers that he had not made any threats and that the weapon was a BB gun, however police recovered no gun.
Hembach said he worked with school district personnel during the course of Thursday evening to determine the credibility of the threat and devise a safety plan for students and staff. Hembach was uncertain where the suspect was attending school at the time of his arrest.
Cheney School District personnel notified students, parents and guardians of the situation via email Friday morning, noting, “the nature of the information was perceived as a credible threat to the safety of students at Cheney High School and Three Springs High School.” CHS principal Troy Heuett said he and district personnel met with teachers and staff prior to first period, providing some talking points with which to address students about the incident.
Counselors were made available throughout the day to talk with students as well. To Heuett’s knowledge, no students sought out counselors during the day.
“I think they talked it out in that first period class,” he said.
Heuett said he offered to meet with staff in the library after school for an additional debriefing since more details were known. About 75 percent of staff showed up, and after listening to Heuett read the Cheney Police press release, had some quick discussion about future measures if such a situation arose again, and then left for the weekend.
Hembach has praise for the two students who made the report, noting they acted quickly in letting their parents know.
“These students saw a perceived threat and came forward with this,” he said.
John McCallum can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.