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Police investigating Blairsville student’s comments about Parkland shooting

by RENATTA SIGNORINI
| Monday, February 19, 2018 8:24 a.m.
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A student was removed from Blairsville High School on Friday after fellow students reported overhearing him make “inappropriate comments” about a Florida school shooting, according to district officials.

This was at least the eighth incident in the past month — and fourth since last week’s deadly shooting in Parkland, Fla. — in which school officials in southwestern Pennsylvania reacted to threats of potential school violence.

State police on Sunday arrested a 17-year-old Somerset County teenager for allegedly threatening to “shoot up” Shade High School.

State police did not identify that student nor the 18-year-old Blairsville student involved in the incident there. No charges had been filed against him Monday.

In a letter to parents, Blairsville-Saltsburg schools Assistant Superintendent Jeffrey Soles commended students and faculty for notifying administrators at the Indiana County school. State police said the suspect “made comments regarding the school district,” but authorities determined there was no threat to the Burrell Township building.

“This situation was contained and dealt with quickly because of those students who had the courage to inform an adult,” Soles wrote in the letter.

School officials and others across the region and country have encouraged students and faculty to adopt the practice of “see something, say something” after yet another school shooting last week.

Nikolas Cruz, 19, allegedly killed 17 people Wednesday at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.

Officials with local school districts have responded to a number of recent threats both before and after the Florida shooting, which was at least the fifth at a U.S. school this year.

• Franklin Regional school officials on Friday canceled classes across the Murrysville district after a student posted a threatening Snapchat photo . That student, who has not been identified, was taken in for a mental health evaluation and probably will not be charged with a crime, police said.

• Also on Friday, Monroeville police arrested a Gateway High School student after he posted

an alleged “terroristic threat” on Snapchat, a popular image-sharing social media app. Officials did not offer details about the post, other than to say the message referenced the Florida school shooting.

• Last Wednesday, South Park High School in Pittsburgh’s South Hills increased its police presence after discovering a possible threat made by a student on Snapchat. In a letter to parents, Superintendent Wayne P. Gdovic said police believe the threat wasn’t credible but that the incident was still being investigated.

• In early February, police in Cambria County arrested a teenager in connection with a threat to “shoot up” a high school in Johnstown’s Westmont Hilltop School District.

• In late January, police arrested a 14-year-old Uniontown Area High School freshman after another student reported hearing discussion on a school bus of a planned school shooting . Police confiscated several firearms and other weapons from the boy’s bedroom. He is charged as a juvenile with terroristic threats, unlawful possession of a firearm and attempting to cause a catastrophe. Officials did not identify him.

• Also in late January, officials with the Laurel Highlands School District canceled classes after written threat was discovered on a wall in a middle school girls’ restroom.

Renatta Signorini is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 724-837-5374, rsignorini@tribweb.com or via Twitter @byrenatta.

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