A University High School student was arrested Monday after allegedly leaving threatening messages on another student’s phone over the weekend, prompting district officials to close the school as a precaution.
The student told the arresting officers that the messages were intended as a prank, Central Valley School District spokeswoman Melanie Rose said. The student apparently left a false name to get another student in trouble.
A voice mail message left Saturday on a female student’s phone threatened to kill the girl and her brother, said Spokane County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Sgt. Dave Reagan. The caller identified himself as “T.J.”
“T.J. is a new student, and this suspect was hot-tubbing with some buddies, and they decided they would make life rough for T.J.,” Reagan said. “T.J. was in no way, shape or form involved in the threats over the weekend.”
The suspect and the victims’ families know each other and recently had a falling out, Reagan said.
In addition to two felony harassment charges, the 15-year-old boy also will face disciplinary action at school that could include expulsion.
Extra staff will be on hand when school reopens today to respond to any concerns students have. One student, U-Hi senior Kelsey Wardsworth, said Monday she was worried about heading back to class because she doesn’t feel as safe as she used to.
She works as a photographer for the Vox, a student-produced newspaper published by The Spokesman-Review.
The Sheriff’s Office spent Monday investigating the threats, which were reported by a parent who had a district administrator’s phone number.
The school’s resource deputy first heard of text messages referring to a threat at 9:30 a.m. Friday, Reagan said.
Rumors spread “of potential incidents occurring at the school,” he said. “With cell phone and texting technology, this kind of rumor is able to spread faster than we can backtrack it.”
After-school activities and games at the school were canceled. The district worked Monday to reschedule games, Rose said.