“A parent had made a complaint that her fifth-grade son had been threatened by another fifth-grader, who happened to be a female.” Napoleon Township Police Chief Duaine Pittman said. “The bottom line is kids need to understand in today’s world – it doesn’t matter the age – threats cannot be made. The school districts all across the state and the country are going to take them extremely serious.” Jim Graham, superintendent, Napoleon Community Schools
A Napoleon elementary-aged student and her father are both being charged in connection with a threat to another student at Ezra Eby Elementary School.
Tuesday, Dec. 7, Napoleon Township Police School Resource Officer Mark Hodshire was contacted by Eby Principal Mike McGonegal about a threat that had occurred at the school.
“A parent had made a complaint that her fifth-grade son had been threatened by another fifth-grader, who happened to be a female,” Napoleon Township Police Chief Duaine Pittman said.
The female had posted a picture of herself on Snapchat holding a handgun and a picture of a bullet with the male student’s name on it. There was also a picture of the father of the girl flipping the victim off posted with it in the Snapchat group.
Officer Hodshire began an investigation interviewing the [male] victim and both the juvenile female and her father, both suspects in the case, at the school, Pittman noted. “They basically admitted to the charges but insinuated that she was responding to some bullying by the other student,” he said.
Hodshire then interviewed nine other students that were involved in the Snapchat group and their parents. Their interviews were added to his report that was sent to the Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office with the request for appropriate charges, Pittman stated. (more below)
“Within a day, the prosecutor’s office issued charges – charging the fifth-grade female with ‘intentional threat to commit an act of violence against a school, school employee, or student’ – which is a misdemeanor – and another misdemeanor charge of ‘telecommunications services – malicious use’ which is basically using a computer or phone to commit a crime,” Pittman noted. The father was charged with the same charges as the juvenile, with an additional third misdemeanor charge of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.
“The father’s actions were certainly inappropriate,” Pittman said. “Even if he felt that his daughter was being bullied, that’s certainly not the way to handle those situations.
“He basically aided and abetted [his daughter] in doing it and that’s why the charge of contributing to the delinquency of a minor was issued,” Pittman continued. “He knew what was going on and partook in the situation. It’s a pretty absurd way to parent a child. We certainly don’t want that going on. We want people to know that their kids are safe at school – the safest we can possibly make them.”
“From the school’s standpoint, we are always going to do what we need to do to keep our kids safe,” said Jim Graham, superintendent, Napoleon Community Schools. “When this situation was brought to our attention, we involved the police immediately. We’re lucky and blessed to have a liaison police officer within our district on a daily basis – five days a week. Anytime we have a situation like this, we will always take their lead and work with the local police department to ensure safety for all students.”
Pittman said he was proud of the way Officer Hodshire handled the situation – taking it seriously and immediately interviewing people to get the report done so it could be sent to the prosecutor for charges. “It’s a great statement by the school that we’re not going to tolerate that kind of activity – so just don’t do it,” Pittman noted. “On the heels of the Oxford shooting and everyone kind of being in shock and worried about their children’s safety, they need to know we take those things seriously and we’re not going to tolerate it.”
Warrants for the suspects’ arrests were being signed and processed last Thursday and Friday. The name of the adult suspect could not be released until his arraignment.
“There is some bullying that goes back and forth that we allow the schools to handle,” Pittman stated. “We don’t want to have to charge especially a young kid with a crime if the parents and school can take control of those situations. But if they can’t, and then we have to step in, they need to know that we will and there are some severe consequences for acting inappropriately.”
Graham agreed. “The bottom line is kids need to understand in today’s world – it doesn’t matter the age – threats cannot be made. The school districts all across the state and the country are going to take them extremely serious.”