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Teen charged in school threat

BEMIDJI - A 16-year-old Blackduck boy was arraigned Friday in juvenile court, Beltrami County District Court, on a charge of felony terroristic threats.

The boy was arrested Thursday following an investigation into an e-mail threat involving physical violence directed towards the school or individuals involved with the school.

The boy's next hearing is scheduled for Sept. 23. Meanwhile, he is in custody in the Northwestern Minnesota Juvenile Center in Bemidji.

School officials said Thursday they would not go into detail about what was in the e-mail but that they take any threat very seriously and the response to this threat was to lock down the school. Superintendent Robert Doetsch said the school was locked down from about 7:50-8:50 a.m.

"We searched the places we needed to search and nothing was found," Doetsch said. "We had our buses go out to the bus garage, so the kids were sitting on the buses."

He said he made the lock-down decision after conferring briefly with high school Principal Wendy Templin regarding the e-mail upon his arrival at the school. He said the threatening e-mail didn't come directly to the school and that the information came from an outside source.

The students waiting in the buses had been on their way in to school, he said. Some students were in the school. High school students were sent to their first-hour classrooms and elementary students to their regular classrooms. They had to wait with locked doors and lights off until the all clear.

"Always, always, the kids' safety is first," Doetsch said.

He said the outside school doors are locked, with a camera and buzzer system at one door for those needing access. Classroom doors are allowed to stand open, but they must be locked so they can be pulled securely shut in an instant.

Doetsch said everyone responded correctly to the lock-down Thursday, and the school is calm today.

"Everything's good," he said. "I was real pleased with everybody. The kids did everything they were supposed to do."

After the lockdown had taken effect, the high school office was notified that the individual reported to have sent the e-mail was on school grounds. Doetsch apprehended, frisked and then escorted the individual to the office, where they waited until the Blackduck Police and the Beltrami County Sheriff's Department arrived to take the suspect into custody. An officer from the sheriff's department searched the individual's locker and school officials reported no items deemed dangerous had been brought onto school property.

A lockdown drill had been preformed Wednesday, and officials praised the planning and rehearsals for the rapid response of both staff and students to the threat.

A school resource officer, who is a fully trained and armed police officer, has been hired, is currently in training and expected to be on school grounds full time within the next two months.