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Teens charged in threats at two NH high schools; Manchester middle school swept by police

Union Leader Correspondents

February 21. 2018 8:44PM
Students at Somersworth and Epping high schools were arrested Wednesday due to threats. In Manchester, Hillside Middle School students were told to shelter in place on Wednesday while authorities used a police dog to sweep the school after threats of a shooting circulated among students, the school principal said. (Clockwise from left: Kimberley Haas; Jason Schreiber; File)

High school students in Somersworth and Epping were arrested Wednesday in a week in which school threats have closed schools and sparked police investigations in New Hampshire.

Somersworth police arrested a teen accused of hijacking a fellow student’s social media account and posting that they “liked to threaten to shoot up schools.”

The post, which included profane statements, caused a great deal of concern for parents. Acting Superintendent Lori Lane said she fielded phone calls well into the evening Tuesday after community members saw it online.

Some people told Lane they did not want to send their children to school. Somersworth High School is attached to the middle school; more than 800 students are on campus daily.

“As a parent myself, I feel everyone needs to do what is right,” Lane said. “I want to believe we have done everything we can, but I encourage parents to make the choices they need to make.”

Lane said there were extra police on campus Wednesday, and staff members have received active shooter training.

Parents and students across the nation have been on edge since 17 people were killed last week in a mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.

Earlier in the day Tuesday, a Somersworth High student was alleged to have made threats about shooting up the school. That student was removed from class, searched and questioned.

No weapons were found, and police decided no criminal charges would be brought after visiting the teen’s home and speaking with parents.

Somersworth Police Capt. Timothy McLin said Wednesday that the alleged social media hijacker is charged with falsifying physical evidence, criminal defamation and creating a false public alarm.

Epping arrest

In Epping, a high school student was arrested Wednesday morning for an alleged threat made on the same day as the Feb. 14 shooting in Florida.

Police said the teen was charged with one count of criminal threatening.

Police Capt. Jason Newman would not comment on the nature of the threat, but said it was not related to an incident at the Seacoast School of Technology last week in which a 16-year-old boy from Hampton was charged after authorities investigated allegations he told friends he was going to “shoot up” the school.

Newman said police have been working closely with faculty, school administrators and a school resource officer. Police do not believe there is any danger to students or faculty.

Manchester middle school

In Manchester, Hillside Middle School students were told to shelter in place on Wednesday while authorities used a police dog to sweep the school after threats of a shooting circulated among students, the school principal said.

Principal Brendan McCafferty wrote to parents that administrators contacted police after they became aware of a screen shot on social media that referred to a shooting threat.

“The police department is confident the screen shot did not originate at Hillside Middle School, but multiple students reposted the screen shot on their social media accounts, which raised concern,” McCafferty wrote.

He said students were told to shelter in place for about 20 minutes during the sweep, which he termed “an extra safety measure.”

Police spokesman Lt. Brian O’Keefe said the “non-credible, generic threat” likely originated elsewhere.

John Stark High School

Classes for students in Weare and Henniker were back in session Wednesday, after police and members of the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force concluded their investigation into a threat scratched into a high school cafeteria table.

Police suspended the investigation at John Stark Regional High School due to a “lack of evidence needed for prosecution.”

No arrests were made.

Union Leader staff members Mark Hayward and Paul Feely contributed to this report.

General News Public Safety Courts Crime Manchester Weare Epping Somersworth

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