Police searched Osborne High School in Cobb County on Wednesday morning for a student who allegedly threatened to kill his ex-girlfriend, her boyfriend, then himself.
In the wake of recent events involving guns and schools, Cobb County police charged the 16-year-old with two counts of making terroristic threats, saying the accusation was too serious to ignore.
“In light of recent incidents, nobody is taking these things lightly,” Cobb County Police spokesman Officer Mike Bowman told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, referring to the mass shooting in December in Newtown, Conn. “Especially the threat of someone getting killed at a public school.”
Police say the teen sent the threatening text message to a friend of his ex-girlfriend sometime Wednesday morning.
“He said he was going to come up to the school and kill her and her new boyfriend, and then kill himself,” Bowman said.
Police were dispatched to Osborne High, where the ex-girlfriend received the text message.
School administrators put the school in “Condition Yellow” — or heightened alert level for school staff — for about 45 minutes late Wednesday morning, school officials said.
Meanwhile, police set up a perimeter around the school as a safety precaution while they searched for the suspect, Bowman said.
“Once that suspect was located, ‘Condition Yellow’ was lifted,” he said, noting that the officers found the teen at his home. “As he was leaving his house, they took him into custody.”
In addition to the two counts of terroristic threats, the 16-year-old was charged with disrupting a public school.
Neither the suspect, nor the intended victims are being identified because they are juveniles, police said.
The combination of guns, youth and schools have become a sore spot for American society, in the months following the Newtown tragedy, University of West Georgia criminology professor David Jenks said.
On Dec. 14, 20-year-old Adam Lanza walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School and shot and killed 20 students and six staff members before fatally shooting himself in the head.
Jenks echoed Bowman’s sentiments when he said the memory of that incident so fresh in the minds of Americans everywhere raises the collective sensitivity to other incidents.
“Those incidents like Newtown and Columbine are rare,” Jenks said. “But what you’ll get now is every incidence of kids bringing guns to schools is going to be mentioned.”
Jenks suggested there is a tendency towards copy-cat behavior
Just this week, a Clayton County Superior Court Judge sentenced an Ellenwood teen to life plus 20 years in prison for killing his 16-year-old ex-girlfriend in 2011.
Kevin Kosturi, then 15 years old, told classmates he wanted to kill his ex-girlfriend Angel Hope Freeman several times before he actually shot her, according to court testimony.
Kosturi planned to kill himself after shooting Freeman, but the gun misfired, prosecutors said.
“Now there is so much media attention on these cases that you see that other people have done it, so now it is possible,” Jenks said.
Times have changed, however, he noted.
“How many times a day does somebody say (‘I’ll kill you’), especially at that age?” Jenks asked. “They don’t mean it. At worst, it’s a really bad joke.
“But now, every potential threat should, and has to be taken seriously.”
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