xml:space="preserve">
xml:space="preserve">
Advertisement
Advertisement

Eighth-grader arrested in Aberdeen Middle threats; nearly half of students absent Wednesday

An Aberdeen Police car drive into the parking lot at Aberdeen Middle School on Wednesday, Dec. 20. City police say they have charged an eighth-grade student in connection with a threat of violence at the school posted Tuesday on social media.
An Aberdeen Police car drive into the parking lot at Aberdeen Middle School on Wednesday, Dec. 20. City police say they have charged an eighth-grade student in connection with a threat of violence at the school posted Tuesday on social media. (Brian Krista / Baltimore Sun Media Group)

A day after someone threatened there would be a shooting at Aberdeen Middle School, three more threats were made toward the school on Tuesday, police confirmed.

All four threats, including one late Monday night, were determined to be non-credible, and the Aberdeen Police Department said it has charged a student in connection with one of them.

Advertisement

The student, an eighth-grader at the school, is charged through the Department of Juvenile Justice with making threats of mass violence and disturbing school operations and activities, a news release issued Wednesday by the police department.

“Every threat has to be taken seriously because you just don’t know, in today’s world. If you don’t take appropriate precautions, and something does go down, people are liable,” Aberdeen Police Ofc. Jason Neidig, the school resource officer, said. “In good conscience, and for the safety of students and staff, even if it’s a minor threat, you never know when it could turn into something real. We have to take every means to investigate as they come in.”

Advertisement
Advertisement

On Tuesday, the school was put on a modified lockdown for the entire day while police and school officials investigated a social media threat made late Monday night that there would be a shooting, Neidig said.

Most students didn’t see the threat until Tuesday morning, and Aberdeen Police were notified of it around 7:30 a.m, Neidig said. The threat was made on Instagram through a new social media app called Sarahah, according to the news release.

Aberdeen Middle School was put on a modified lockdown much of Tuesday as city police and school officials investigated a social media threat of a shooting, police said.

It said there would be a shooting at the school at 11:23 a.m. Tuesday, Neidig said.

The threat was ultimately determined to be a hoax, police said.

Advertisement

The school operated on a modified lockdown and access to and from was limited and monitored for the rest of the day. Classes continued and ended as scheduled, police said.

Students were worried, however, and many were texting and calling their parents from school, Neidig said. Of the 1,150 students at Aberdeen Middle, 490 left early Tuesday, he said.

One of the students who left early, signed out by a parent, was acting suspiciously when he reported the threat, Neidig said, and allegedly later posted on social media a reminder of the 11:23 a.m. threat.

“The threat was made after he left school and before the 11:23 target time,” Neidig said, adding that post was soon deleted.

Just before dismissal Tuesday, a second threat was made, directed toward a specific student and said something like “It didn’t go down today, it will go down tomorrow,” Neidig said.

Two more threats were made Tuesday evening, he said.

“One referenced ‘it can happen at any time this week’ and another about a shooting at 10 — there was no reference to a.m. or p.m. — at Aberdeen Middle School,” Neidig said.

Police interviewed several students, which led them to the student who posted the reminder, Neidig said. Officer interviewed him at school and he confessed to making one of the threats.

“He only admitted to one, but evidence leads us to believe he made the original one as well,” Neidig said. “He denied the other three.”

The student, a 15-year-old, was released Tuesday night to the custody of his mother and charged Wednesday through the Department of Juvenile Justice after consultation with the Harford County State’s Attorney’s Office, Neidig said.

The threats were a disruption for police, he said.

“It’s very exhausting because we’re chasing posts on social media and having to match screen names with students, interviewing multiple students,” Neidig said.

As many as eight officers were at the middle school Tuesday to investigate, he said, and assist with student dismissal.

During the lockdown, all business was done at the front door — no parents were allowed in, he said.

Only certain student bathrooms could be used and only one student at a time was permitted to be in the hallway.

The school was still locked down Wednesday, though a little lighter than Tuesday, Neidig said, adding 526 students were absent Wednesday, almost half of the school. On Thursday, 175 students were absent, according to Lindsay Bilodeau, acting manager of communications for Harford County Public Schools.

“We will always take each and every threat seriously, as the safety of our students and staff is our utmost priority. Aberdeen Middle School administrators made extraordinary efforts, while remaining vigilant in the security of the school building, to have the instructional day proceed on both Tuesday and Wednesday,” Bilodeau said in an email. “However, these types of incidents are extremely disruptive to the school day. Investigations into threats occupy many additional hours of time and create a distraction for police personnel, school system staff and school-based staff.”

Neidig encouraged parents to talk to their children about being responsible on social media.

“What they say can come back to the student and we as police and the school are taking any type of threat very seriously and students will be charged if they’re identified,” Neidig said.

Recommended on Baltimore Sun

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement