Lake Stevens Journal - Your hometown newspaper since 1960

 

By Pam Stevens
Managing Editor 

Arrest made in high school cyber-bullying threats

 

School district, police work together to keep students safe

Dozens of students attending Granite Falls High School received threats through a website called Ask.fm beginning mid-December.

On Friday, January 17, Granite Falls police arrested a 17-year-old male student from Granite Falls High School.

"Following a month-long series of online threats made against students and staff at the high school... the male, who is a student at the High School, was taken into custody after a search warrant was issued at the 200 block of S. Indiana Ave.  He confessed to making the series of violent threats against specific students, the High School student body and school staff since December 15, 2013," police said in a statement.

The student was booked into Denney Juvenile Justice Center for cyberstalking and felony harassment.

The student made the threats via Ask.fm which is a Latvian based website where users can post any question they want and can do it anonymously.

Snohomish County Sheriff's Department was working with the school district and the FBI in this case.

Several entities met together on Wednesday, January 15 to discuss the cyberstalking.

Granite Falls School Board member Carl Cary commended the school district for increasing communication with parents through their school's website. "This has been an effective channel in reaching the community members of those we serve," he said. 

The school district sent a statement to media outlets stating, "On Monday, the school district issued a public apology admitting the district needs to do a better job at keeping the community informed and feeling comfortable sending children to school."

Since then the district has been making twice daily updates on their website.

"Our heartfelt concern and support goes out to every parent whose child has been named on these threat lists.  Student safety is, and will always be, paramount," Granite Falls School District Superintendent Linda Hall said.

The concern is that these types of threats are becoming more common among teenagers not just here but throughout the world. Several suicides, because of bullying, have allegedly been connected to Ask.fm.

"While we don't believe the threats are credible, we take them very seriously," said Chief Bowman. 

"Working with detectives from the Snohomish County Sheriff's Office, police were able to establish probable cause for arrest by tracing the online postings back to the location where the search warrant was served," Shari Ireton spokesperson for the Sheriff's Department said in a statement.

The school district is hosting a cyber-threat prevention and response training on Tuesday, February 11, provided by the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI). 

Information for High School students and their families will be posted on the school district's web site at http://www.gfalls.wednet.edu.

 

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