In the Carson Valley: Threats dismissed as ‘MySpace banter’
District Judge Michael Gibbons ordered a 16-year-old Douglas High School student accused of threatening to shoot classmates to remain in detention until the judge has more information about the suspect and the incident.
Lawyer Tod Young, representing the young man at a juvenile court detention hearing Monday, said the teenager denied the petition charging him with threat to cause bodily harm at a school.
“From the beginning of the investigation, (the teenager) has been saying, ‘I don’t understand what everybody’s upset about. This was joking,'” Young said.
He said the boy and a friend were sending each other instant messages on their MySpace.com sites which Young described as “banter.”
He said some of the messages were “grossly inappropriate,” but the exchange had been going on for more than a month.
“An element of this offense is intent to cause someone to feel intimidated, frightened or alarmed,” Young said. “One of the juveniles mentioned (said…) ‘If you ever come to school and shoot anybody, do me first.'”
He said two of the students identified as targets in the messages went to school officials with their concerns Thursday. School Resources Officer Deputy Greg Shields was contacted by staff at 7:45 a.m.
Investigators talked with the boy at school and he was taken into custody Thursday where he remains.
Gibbons set a fact-finding hearing for March 11, and refused to release the boy to his parents, who were in court Monday.
“I don’t know what you were doing, but you don’t seem to comprehend the seriousness of even joking about this,” Gibbons said. “The reaction is justified on the part of authorities.”
Gibbons said he would review the boy’s detention after he received additional information from a psychologist hired by the youth’s parents.
“The allegations are too serious for the court to make a determination without more information about what happened,” Gibbons said. “The state should have more time to investigate. The court has to err on the side of caution in this.”
Young said he wanted to make sure the boy had his school work so he won’t fall behind.
He said the boy underwent a risk assessment at juvenile detention and was determined not to be a danger to himself or others.
Young said his client would have full-time supervision by his parents, and that weapons had been removed from the residence.
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