Three students at Edmond Memorial High School have been charged for threatening acts of violence (a misdemeanor) against teachers and fellow classmates. According to a letter sent out to the parents that was forwarded to Ignite Liberty, the incident was discovered when a text message detailing specific threats to both the school and individuals at the school was reported to school administration.
The administration contacted the Edmond Police, who upon further investigation discovered an entire list of individual students and staff that the three students in question planned to threaten.
It is unclear whether the text messages were meant as a hoax or not, as they were found only on the devices of the students in question. However, Anthony Rose, Principal of Edmond Memorial High School, stressed in a letter to parents about the incident that, “False threats are not considered lightly, but rather, very seriously. It is never acceptable to joke about school safety. Furthermore, it is against the law.”
A second incident occurred at Sequoyah Middle School on December 2nd. According to the parents of the victim, who contacted Ignite Liberty for help, a young 8th grade male student approached the victim, a female, during the lunch hour with his hands together in the form of a gun and asked, “are you going to be at school tomorrow?” When she answered in the affirmative, the male student responded with, “ok good – you’re first then.” When she asked him, “why?”, he answered, “just tell your mom you love her.”
The female student, deeply shook, went to the bathroom with her friend. As she was walking away, the male student approached her friends and said, “don’t come to school tomorrow.”
According to the victim’s mother, the victim and her friends immediately reported the incident to the school counselor. While the counselor was reporting it to the principle, the male student in question came to the victim’s lunch table demanding, “who told on me?! WHO TOLD?!” When he saw the school counselor coming to the table, he left them alone.
The male student was then brought into the principal’s office and questioned by the principal and the SRO (School Resource Officer). The parents of the victim filed a police report with the Edmond PD that day, before the SRO had the opportunity to file one.
Ignite Liberty inquired from the Edmond PD as to why the SRO was not able to file a report at the time of the incident. According to standard EPD policy, SRO’s do not file police reports a the time of incidents like these unless an arrest is made. Police reports are typically filed at the end of their shift, or prior to the beginning of the next shift.
The reason is a logistical one. Unlink some larger cities, Edmond does not have the resources for any of their officers, whether SROs or not, to file electronic police reports in the field. Instead, each officer carries an information card with him/her to record the pertinent information about the incident. At the end of their shift, they then use that information to file a report once they return to the station.
Over the past several years, the SRO program has only had 8 available officers. SRO officers come from the patrol division, which itself has about 90 of the 125 total officers on the force. After three years of service, the patrol officers can apply to become SROs.
Up until this point, each of the high schools have had only 1 dedicated SRO while the middle schools shared the rest. Elementary schools are served by patrol officers known as “buddy cops” from the patrol division surrounding the school.
Starting with the Spring 2022 semester, the SRO program will be gaining 3 new officers for a total of 11, thanks to a grant recently received from the federal government. This will allow each high school to have 2 dedicated SROs, and each middle school to have their own dedicated SRO (except Cimarron, which will be split with another middle school). Elementary school will continue to be patrolled by “buddy cops.”
The Sequoyah MS incident has now been referred to the Oklahoma County DA’s office for charges and possible prosecution. Prior to charges being referred, the student in this case was currently serving an 11 day out-of-school suspension. There is no word yet as to whether charges being brought will change that student’s punishment. Meanwhile, the students in the Edmond Memorial HS case have been barred from the premises.
While Oklahoma is one a few states where making a terroristic hoax is considered a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison, the incidents in these cases may not rise to the level of a felony. According to the EPD PIO, the Oklahoma County DAs office usually requires both physical evidence of the threat as well as evidence that the threat was communicated directly to the intended target in order to charge a suspect with a felony.
In the Edmond Memorial case, the physical evidence was available, however the text messages had not been sent to any of the intended targets. They were found on the suspect’s devices after the police and school investigated.
In the Sequoyah MS case, while the threat was communicated to the intended target, there is no physical evidence that the threat was made (text messages, notes, etc.). It is the word of one student against another, though serious enough to warrant charges being pressed.
At the time of this article, it has yet to be determined if the DAs office will charge the student in the Sequoyah case, or what, if any, the nature of those charges will be.
Ignite Liberty will monitor the progress of these cases, and provide any updates as they become available.