For the second day in a row, a Killeen Independent School District student was arrested on suspicion of making terroristic threats.
A Harker Heights High School 11th grader was arrested by KISD police Thursday afternoon for allegedly making a terroristic threat against other students at the school during class that day, according to a press release.
The 16-year-old boy was taken from class to the Bell County Juvenile Center after a KISD investigation showed the student threatened gun violence against other students.
School and KISD police officials took statements from several students and a teacher during the course of the investigation, according to the release, and when the investigation was completed Thursday, the student was arrested at school and removed from the campus.
“Threats of violence against our students, our teachers, our staff and our facilities will be met with the strongest possible response,” said Superintendent John Craft. “We will not allow the safety of our schools to be threatened, and we will aggressively pursue criminal charges against anyone who makes these threats.”
The incident was in no way related to Wednesday’s arrest of a 12-year-old Roy J. Smith Middle School student, according to KISD chief communication officer Terry Abbott.
In that case, the student was accused of making threats of mass shootings against Roy J. Smith, Audie Murphy Middle School, Liberty Hill Middle School and Patterson Middle School.
Abbott said school leaders are talking directly with students about these issues, and the director of school safety is working to assemble a student, staff and parent focus group to discuss threats against schools.
Harker Heights High School Principal Larry Brazzil telephoned parents this afternoon to inform them of the arrest.
In his phone call, Principal Brazzil said:
“Parents, this is Larry Brazzil, principal of Harker Heights High School, calling with an important message concerning student safety. A Harker Heights High School 11th grader was arrested on campus today for making verbal threats of gun violence against the school. Killeen ISD Police arrested the student and charged him with making a terroristic threat. He has been removed from campus and placed in the Bell County Juvenile Center and is facing these charges.
“We urge parents to please talk carefully with your children and please report to the school or to law enforcement or appropriate medical authorities any time children express any thoughts about suicide or violence toward anyone, including their fellow students, teachers and administrators,” Brazzil said in the phone call.
Parents earlier this week had expressed concern about the social threats against schools.
Just 39,437 kids attended class Wednesday and 4,662 were absent for an attendance rate of 89.43 percent.
Abbott said KISD attendance “rebounded” Thursday, significantly increasing following the arrest of the 12-year-old girl Wednesday. There were 44,105 kids in school and 2,496 absent for a 94.34 percent attendance rate.
Agencies involved in the investigation leading up to the arrest of the Roy J. Smith student included KISD police, Killeen police, the FBI and Fort Hood authorities.
Special agent Michelle Lee with the FBI Headquarters in San Antonio said the FBI gets involved when asked to assist by another state or local agency. Smaller agencies often request assistance due to limited personnel resources, Lee said.
The FBI played a minor role in the Roy J. Smith case, Lee said.
“KPD really did all the hard work here,” Lee said, referring most questions back to Killeen police.
The San Antonio division of the FBI has seen “a significant spike” in reports of school related threats since Feb. 15, one day after the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida.
Lee said the FBI’s worldwide investigative reach and “sophisticated investigative” techniques help with some cases. She said the FBI assesses threats where the suspect may be motivated by ideology.
Neither of the arrested students were arraigned by Bell County Justice of Peace as of Thursday afternoon.