DEER PARK, Texas — Police took a 15-year-old high school student into custody for threats made on Twitter against other students, Deer Park ISD officials said Thursday.
In one tweet, the student claimed he would bring a gun to school and kill others out of retaliation, but police said a thorough investigation revealed the student did not have the means to carry out any attack.
Another tweet said the student had been “bullied for 5 years.” Screen grabs of the tweet spread like wildfire and soon after, administrators got involved.
The tweets came from a twitter handle “@gorgeousgirlsof.” The account had a picture of a female student at Deer Park High, but she was not the one who posted the messages.
Investigators were able to track down the real poster by working with Twitter. KHOU’s Social Media/Digital Content Producer Doug Delony explained how the social networking site works with police.
“Once they verified there’s an actual threat, they will track that IP address from that particular handle, and then hand that over to law enforcement,” Delony said.
The IP address is like a phone number – once officers have that — they can get a physical address and that’s how they made the arrest.
“The parents (of the suspect) were very cooperative, obviously surprised to see a couple of detectives show up at their door,” Deer Park Police Lt. Earl Morrison said. “He admitted to the detectives he created a false account, he used different photos of several different girls to get people to respond to him.”
Despite the arrest, the threat caused a lot of fear at the school. The threats had plenty of students on edge and, at first, confused.
“We didn’t even know where it was at. They were telling us north campus, told me south campus, they told me it was a girl, it was a guy. I didn’t know what to expect,” said Asia Lewis, a student.
“And it’s extremely scary to think that someone wants to bring a gun to school and shoot other students because of bullying,” said Joseph Gray, another student.
Kellie Mclemore, a parent, expressed relief, adding that she almost kept her child at home.
“If they hadn’t found him, yeah, yeah, yeah. I would have,” Mclemore said.
But the threat turned out to be nothing. Police say the 15-year-old did not have a plan or weapons, and that he acted alone.
Now, the student’s future is uncertain. Most likely, he will never be allowed on that campus again.
“In most cases, when you have a student who makes a threat, that student ends up being reassigned to like a disciplinary campus,” said Matt Lucas, Deer Park ISD.
Statement from the school:
At about 9:15 p.m. last night, a Deer Park High School-North Campus student made a threat on Twitter using an anonymous account. He threatened to bring a gun to school and shoot others who had bullied him. Deer Park Police have arrested the student and are absolutely confident that he was alone in making the threat. As a precaution, security has been increased at North Campus today.
Although no specific school or student was mentioned in the threat, a photo of a female North Campus student was included in the threatening message. The threat quickly drew the attention of the District as well as students, parents, and others who reported it to the authorities.
The Deer Park Police Department responded with great speed and diligence, conducting a detailed investigation involving Twitter officials as well as other organizations that resulted in the arrest of the student who made the threat. He is a ninth-grade male, and his parents are cooperating with the authorities.
Police are confident that the student acted alone and believe that he had no plan, no access to weapons, and simply made a spontaneous threat.
The student was arrested at about 4 a.m. this morning and will not be at school.
We will share more information about this situation as it becomes available.
District officials said attendance was down by more than 20 percent. The suspect remains in custody at a juvenile detention facility.