Any rational and informed person should know by now that joking about shooting or threatening students at educational institutions is no joke. Rather, it is likely to be tried as a brutally serious offense in light of the many deadly school shootings occurring in the past several years. That fact makes it even more shocking to see two young people in Arkansas being caught up in a net of alleged terroristic threats against their respective schools and fellow students.
Even more unsettling is the fact that the two persons arrested allegedly threatened schools in the same Arkansas town in two separate and unrelated incidents. Both individuals were arrested on felony charges of making terroristic threats. One is a 14-year-old junior high school student in Conway, who allegedly posted a message on a social media board saying that he would “shoot up” a nearby school.
The other defendant is an 18-year-old student from Conway who is charged with posting threats generally against students at the University of Central Arkansas by warning them to stay off campus on two separate dates. He allegedly warned that they not “fall victim” to some unnamed event. In the case of the minor defendant, a Conway Police Department spokesman stated that the child told authorities that he acted on a dare. There were no weapons found in connection with the youth, and police are indicating that there is no evidence that he intended to carry it through.
The history of senseless and deadly attacks on the country’s schools necessitates that the authorities conscientiously investigate and prosecute, or satisfactorily resolve, each matter. The prosecutor is duty-bound to assure the public that there is no remaining threat or danger. Defense counsel must defend vigorously any defendant who claims that he did not make terroristic threats under Arkansas law or did not otherwise engage in criminal activity. Where the evidence is overwhelming and criminal intent is admitted, defense counsel may seek to focus the case on the client’s mental health and the need for appropriate treatment and rehabilitation.
Source: grandforksherald.com, “Two arrested in Arkansas for threatening attacks at schools”, Oct. 6, 2015