By Marcia Moore
The Daily Item
MIDDLEBURG — A 14-year-old boy is in custody for allegedly sending a bomb threat that led to the evacuation of nearly 700 students from Midd-West High School on Friday.
Middleburg police filed a complaint against the unidentified boy with the Snyder County Juvenile Probation Office, alleging he sent the bomb threat by email through a school computer.
The boy, who has been held in a juvenile detention center since Monday awaiting a court hearing before week’s end, is charged with terroristic threats, criminal use of a communication facility, unlawful use of a computer, reckless endangering and disorderly conduct.
The charges stem from “an extensive investigation” by law enforcement, school administration and its information technology department, police said.
Snyder County District Attorney Michael Piecuch would not comment specifically on the case, but in general said juveniles accused of similar charges could face a range of dispositions that include referral to a diversion program, probation or commitment to a juvenile detention center.
The penalty depends on the incident, age of the juvenile, prior criminal record, school history and behavioral issues.
Teens around the country have faced severe punishments for making bomb threats to public schools in recent months.
In September, Paul Miner Jr., 17, was sentenced to four years in adult prison for making a false bomb threat that led to the evacuation of a Lima, Ohio, high school in March.
In Milwaukee last week, a 17-year-old was sentenced to a week in jail and probation for one year for scrawling a death threat on a bathroom wall at his high school.
In early January, a 15-year-old Myrtle Beach, S.C., student with a prior criminal history was sent to a juvenile detention center for three months to five years, depending on his behavior, for a bomb threat.
The nature of an anonymous bomb threat is to terrorize others, Piecuch said, and he believes they’ve always been handled with care by law enforcement.
“We take all bomb threats seriously,” he said. “I don’t know that they were never not taken seriously.”
Midd-West Superintendent Wesley Knapp has been an educator for nearly five decades and said there’s always been swift and harsh response to threats of violence in schools.
“It takes the joke out of it and does serve as a deterrent,” he said.
The Midd-West threat was made on an email account at the school Friday afternoon and was noticed almost immediately by staff monitoring it, Knapp said.
Within 21 minutes, the high school was evacuated of all students, faculty and staff to the nearby Middleburg Middle School.
No bomb or devices were found and the students returned to the high school around 2 p.m.