News & Politics

Schools in Northeast Ohio on High Alert after a Rash of Mass Shooting Threats This Week

(Image via Facebook/WKYC)

Schools across northeast Ohio are on high alert this week as a result of multiple threats in the wake of last week’s mass shooting at a school in Parkland, Florida. Several schools, all within a 20-minute drive of Akron, Ohio, were dealing with threats, and in one case, an actual shooting:

JACKSON TWP.: A seventh-grade student was wounded by an apparent self-inflicted gunshot Tuesday morning, township police said. All Jackson Local schools are on lockdown. All other students are safe, police said. A message posted on the school district website says all four elementary schools will remain closed Tuesday. (Ohio.com)

7th grader shoots self at Jackson Memorial Middle School

This is the school where a 7th grader sustained a self-inflicted gunshot wound in Stark County: http://on.wkyc.com/2EQkV5g

Posted by WKYC Channel 3 – Cleveland on Tuesday, February 20, 2018

The student, who was taken to Akron Children’s Hospital with a gunshot wound to the temple, reportedly had in his possession Molotov cocktails and ammunition.

Just a few miles away in Green, Ohio:

GREEN: A 14-year-old is accused of posting images of a handgun on social media and threatening the lives of school students.

The Summit County Sheriff’s Office says it was alerted Feb. 18 to threats made by a former Green Middle School student who now lives in Bedford. The suspect allegedly posted images of a handgun on Instagram and threatened to shoot Green students during an online argument.

Sheriff’s spokesman Bill Holland declined to comment on the nature of the argument.

The suspect, whose name was not released, has been charged with telecommunications harassment, a first-degree misdemeanor, and taken to the Summit County Juvenile Detention Center. (Ohio.com)

Twenty minutes to the north in Akron:

AKRON: Akron police have arrested an Ellet High School student who threatened to recreate the mass school shooting that claimed 17 people in Florida last week.

Another suspect who allegedly threatened to assault Firestone High School days earlier with a rifle, handgun, nerve gas and homemade explosive has not been found.

The 16-year-old Ellet student, who is a minor and has not been named, was transported to the juvenile detention center on Dan Street at 2 p.m. Monday. A message posted on his Snapchat account 14 hours earlier, between midnight and 12:08 a.m., had carried the threat “I hate Florida, part 2.”

The student has been charged with terroristic threat, a third degree felony. (Ohio.com)

Forty-five minutes to the north in a Cleveland suburb:

WILLOUGHBY, Ohio — Two Willoughby South High School students are accused of posting a threat on social media that referenced a school shooting, police said.

The 17- and 16-year-old students were arrested Monday night and charged with inducing panic, marijuana possession and drug paraphernalia possession, police said in a news release.

Detectives did not provide specific details of the threat or say where it was posted.

The police department has a heightened presence at the high school Tuesday, but classes are not affected, Willoughby-Eastlake City Schools Superintendent Steve Thompson said in a statement.

Several parents called the police department and the school district about 9:45 p.m. to report the threat. Tips from parents and teachers helped authorities identify the two students, police said.

Willoughby police officers and FBI agents from the Painesville office found the two students and took them into custody, police said. (Cleveland.com)

Schools in northwest Ohio are also dealing with “mass shooting” threats:

TOLEDO, Ohio – A teenager is in custody Monday evening in Ohio for allegedly threatening to “shoot up” a school.

A parent reported to Toledo Police that his children had received video and picture messages from 19-year-old Christian Costet, who was threatening to “shoot up” Waite High School. After receiving the report, detectives opened an investigation right away. Police worked alongside the FBI and Toledo Public Schools. Costet was found in his home at where he was taken into custody without incident by Toledo Police SWAT.

A replica rifle that Costet was pictured with was found in an abandoned house in Toledo. Costet is facing charges of inducing panic, a felony of the second degree. (KTTV)

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TOLEDO, Ohio – Toledo police arrested a man Monday for threatening a “mass shooting” at Waite High School.

Investigators say Christian Costet, 20, posted pictures and videos on social media threatening to “shoot up” the school Tuesday morning.

SWAT officers arrested Costet Monday afternoon at his home on the 600 block of Congress. A fake rifle that he took pictures with was found in an abandoned home on Clark Street.

According to a release, police were notified of the threat after a parent reported that his children had received video and picture messages from Costet. (WTVG)

Schools and law enforcement officials, out of an abundance of caution, are taking all threats seriously as they work to sort out which are real and which are hoaxes. Copycat threats are not unusual in the wake of a mass shooting, and, in fact, they’re happening around the country, making already traumatized students feel especially vulnerable in the aftermath of last week’s massacre.

The media attention given to mass shooters often inspires copycat attention seekers. After last week’s shooting, PJM’s David Forsmark noted that the media often feeds into the worst instincts of students who have a predilection toward violence. “There is… a media behavioral profile for these situations, and it is perfectly matched to the desires of a deranged person who would like to go out in a blaze of glory,” Forsmark wrote.