Police showed swift response to violent threats made by Utah students this week, arresting two teens who made separate threats alluding to potential school shootings, despite investigations finding that neither threat was serious.
On Thursday, Springville police arrested a 17-year-old male who posted a photo of himself or someone else holding an assault rifle with the caption “Burrr it’s cold.”
And on Wednesday, Heber City police arrested a 15-year-old boy after his friend posted a video on Snapchat of him holding an assault rifle, racking it and warning fellow Wasatch High School students to not go to school the next day.
Police interviewed the boys and determined both instances were jokes made in poor taste. But Lt. Warren Foster with Springville police said given the history of school shootings, from Columbine to the most recent in Florida, all threats need to be taken seriously.
Foster said police determined the gun in the photo was a replica, and that no plan to act had been formed.
“We have no reason to believe there was any premeditation,” Foster said. “We firmly believe it was a bad decision on this young man’s part to post such a ridiculous thing.”
But the student, a senior, was nevertheless booked into the Slate Canyon Detention Center in Provo on several charges, including terroristic threat.
In Heber, the 15-year-old was at a friend’s house helping the family move. The teens came across an assault rifle and decided to film the video and send it out to friends, Det. Tammy Thacker said.
A female student saw the video and showed her parents, who reported it to police. The boy who was holding the gun in the video was arrested and also booked Slate Canyon Detention Center on suspicion of threat of violence and aggravated assault.
Thacker said there is no reason to believe the student was planning to act on the threat.
Neither the Heber boy nor the Springville boy said their jokes were a response to recent shootings, according to police.
But Thacker said Heber High School has pushed a campaign this school year aimed at getting students to report perceived danger. It’s something the agency supports and assists with.
“Anytime we would have a gun threat, it’s always taken seriously,” she said.