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Arrests, lockdowns, anxiety: Colorado schools dealing with cascade of threats in Florida wake

Posted at 1:05 PM, Feb 22, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-22 20:17:25-05

DENVER — Colorado authorities are responding quickly to an apparent surge of threats to schools by beefing up security and making several arrests amid heightened anxiety in the wake of the Florida shooting. 

A 13-year-old Grand Junction student is the latest arrest. Police say the East Middle School male student was arrested Thursday morning and released on a summons to his parents for making statements to other students about carrying out a school shooting.

Thursday’s arrest marks the fifth Grand Junction student charged with making threats to schools following the Florida shooting. Two 15-year-olds, a 16-year-old and a 5th grader were arrested in four separate incidents over the past couple of days.

The Grand Junction Police Department is encouraging parents to remind children of the importance of immediately reporting anything they perceive as a threat or safety issue.

About 30 miles south of Grand Junction, another Western Slope teen is facing charges. A 15-year-old was arrested last Thursday in Delta after reports that a gun was brought to school. No shots were fired, but the school was placed on lockdown during the incident.

Threats of possible school shootings has largely been fueled by social media, the latest one in Brighton — the second for Brighton High School this week, according to parents. Principal John Biner informed families through a letter that a student tipped them off about a threatening message "which is very vague and mentioned tomorrow's date 2/23/2018," according to the letter. 

The principal said a police report had been filed and school officials as well as the Brighton Police Department were investigating the tip, which was not determined to be credible. School officials did not provide further details about what type of threat was made against Brighton High School.

"We will continue to investigate the source of the threat and will hold the person who made the threat accountable," Biner said in the letter to parents. "Any student who is found responsible for making a threat against students, staff or Brighton High School will face serious repercussions up to and including expulsion as well as prosecution to the fullest extent of the law."

School activities at Brighton High will remain as scheduled, but there will be extra police presence Friday, Biner said. 

Southwest of Brighton, students at Westminster High School were released at noon Thursday following a threat made on Snapchat, which was later determined to be unfounded. 

However, the student who made the false threat was charged in the incident, police said.

"There's social media platforms, there's video games. These sorts of threats are making it to all these different platforms," Aurora Police Officer Bill Hummel said.

And on Wednesday, Englewood Middle School officials sent a letter home to parents following a student tip regarding a rumored gun on campus. Englewood Police said it's investigating several Safe2Tell tips regarding potential school shootings. 

JeffCo Public Schools said the district received several reports about the threat against Bear Creek High Schoollate Tuesday night. Officials said a student was taken into custody after the threat was posted on social media.

In a statement sent to Denver7, Denver Public School officials said anyone caught making written threats to kill or harm "will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law." 

"These types of threats towards schools, or any kind of violence towards schools is a very serious crime and can actually reach felony levels," Hummel said.

If you think there's suspicious activity around you, make a report using your smartphone by downloading the Safe2Tell Colorado mobile app from the Apple Store or Google Play or by calling 1-877-542-7233 to speak to a live, trained dispatcher.