PLAIN CITY – Less than two weeks after a school shooting in Champaign County, a 14-year-old student at Jonathan Alder Junior High has been charged for making Instagram posts that threatened a school shooting Friday.
The post was published about 6:30 p.m. Thursday evening, according to Madison County Sheriff Jim Sabin. It featured an image of cartoon character SpongeBob SquarePants with the words “When you’ve been planning the school shooting for weeks and it’s finally the day.”
The caption read “tomorrow.”
The sheriff’s office was alerted to the post by district parents whose children had shared the post with them, as well as district officials, Sabin said.
Deputies responded to the teen’s rural Madison County home and took the boy into custody. Parents of the teen were unaware of the posts but have been cooperative with the investigation, Sabin said.
There were guns in the home, although not the type of assault weapons typically used in mass shootings, Sabin noted.
“Even though it was a vague threat, it required action to be taken to ensure the safety of students and staff at school,” the sheriff said. “We’re investigating whether this was done out of frustration, anger or just attention.”
The teen spent the night at Central Ohio Youth Center, the juvenile detention facility in Marysville. He has no prior criminal history.
He appeared in juvenile court Friday morning to face a delinquency count of inducing panic. Judge Chris Brown ordered the teen to go through a mental health evaluation. The judge also ordered the records sealed to prohibit the release of the boy’s name.
The teen is back at the juvenile detention center.
Classes were in session at the junior high on Friday with an increased law enforcement presence to provide reassurance to students and staff. Plain City police officers also had an increased presence at bus stops in the village Friday morning.
The district sent out a statement via the automated call system to community members on the matter Friday morning.
“We are proud of our students, families, school staff, school administration, law enforcement officials, first responders and community members for how they reported and responded to the threat,” stated Superintendent Gary Chapman. “We are grateful to our community in working together to ensure one another’s safety.
The same Instagram account also includes references to the Columbine High School school shooting that took place in 1999.
Sabin said the sheriff’s office and the school district worked together to follow all protocols in place. Deputies believe it is an isolated incident, in that no other students were involved.
The investigation is ongoing.
This threat comes two weeks after a school shooting critically injured 16-year-old Logan Cole at West Liberty-Salem High School.
The alleged shooter is a classmate, 17-year-old Ely Ray Serna.
He is facing 13 charges, including two counts of attempted murder and six counts of improperly discharging a firearm at or into a habitation or a school safety zone stemming from the shooting.
Andrea Chaffin can be reached at 740-852-1616 or on Twitter @Andee_Writes.