UPDATE: Hartland Schools Have Suspect in Death Threat

18-year-old suspect could face criminal charges. Has been released to the custody of his parents.

UPDATE 12:10 p.m. -- The 18-year-old suspect who is thought to be responsible for today's school closing due to death threats over social media has been released to the custody of his parents, according to Livingston County Sheriff Bob Bezotte. 

Charges will be filed against the young man by Hartland Schools and the prosecutor’s office pending Bezotte's investigation, which could take up to a week to gather all the evidence, according to Bezotte.

The Livingston County Sheriff's office began receiving 911 calls from parents on Monday night between 8 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. telling them that there would be a school shooting at on Tuesday morning.

"Today is the 24th, some of the tweets and emails that went out over the social network referred to this morning," Bezotte said. 

The number 24, a rifle and the comment "you're first" were also referred to in the 911 calls, according to Bezotte.

"The parents, rightfully so, took it as a serious threat," Bezotte said. "The school officials- Janet Sifferman, Chuck Hughes- took it very serious and shut down the school. So their obvious concern was to protect the students." 

The school has also been dealing with incidents of vandalism over the past two weeks, according to Bezotte with the number 24 written on the grass and building walls as well.

In a statement released to the press Tuesday morning, Sifferman said the school became aware of the problem after students and parents reported the threat.

"Last night we received notifications from students and parents that various social networking sites were reporting there would be a shooting at Hartland High School on Tuesday, April 24, 2012," Sifferman wrote in the press release. "We immediately notified the Livingston County Sheriff’s Department. For the safety of our students, we canceled classes so we could work with the Sheriff’s Department to investigate and hopefully resolve the situation.

"The Sheriff notified us early this morning that they had identified the person who originated the rumor. While further investigation is ongoing, we are confident this has been resolved and classes will resume tomorrow."

Extra security and police presence will be seen around campus on Wednesday, according to Sifferman's release. 

Bezotte says that possible charges under the terrorist law could apply to this incident.

"Taken into consideration some of school shootings that have happened in the recent months, we take this stuff serious, as does the prosecutor, as does the school and the community," Bezotte said. "He’s trying to say this is a joke, but initially no one took it as a joke and in the law enforcement community, we never take it as a joke."

The Hartland High School student was supposed to be graduating in a month, according to Bezotte.

"I’m sure that’s going to be put on the back burner," he said.

hartland eagle April 28, 2012 at 03:16 PM
So, you believe the rumor more than the direct communication from the school?
hartland eagle April 28, 2012 at 03:19 PM
The fact that he was released to his parents means nothing. He doesn't have to be charged immediately. Even after he is charged, "worried", he'll be released to his parents once he makes bail. What would you have them do? Lock him up and throw away the key? For making some posts on Facebook?
hartland eagle April 28, 2012 at 03:22 PM
Really. Spend money on security over this. You think that's a good use of a school funds? You know nothing about this kid, other than that over the course of what, one evening, he posted some things that were perceived as threatening on social media. I think school funds should be spent on educating people. Perhaps we start with spelling.
Josh April 29, 2012 at 02:15 PM
He should be required to wear a gps tracking tether and not be allowed so many yards around any school...
Danielle Smith April 29, 2012 at 06:54 PM
Has any school shooting that has actually occurred, been forewarned or discussed on facebook or twitter before hand? People need to be more concerned about the kids who are being bullied or show real red flags such as essays or journals they may have to keep at school, parents and schools need to spend time educating themselves about the warning signs of depression or bullying. Detroit public schools spends tons of money on security, kids are still shot outside of the building and their education suffers for lack of funds. This kid is not a real threat.


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