BEDFORD, Pa. (WTAJ) — A student from the West Allegheny School District outside of Pittsburgh is facing a felony charge after making a threat to Bedford Elementary School Tuesday night.
Within a few hours, officials identified and addressed the source of the threat and were able to have a normal school day Wednesday.
A tip was sent into Safe2Say around 9:30 Tuesday night by a parent of a Bedford 5th-grader. There were screenshots of a snapchat conversation where one child claimed he was going to attack Bedford Elementary School Wednesday.
Less than two hours after the initial tip on Safe2Say, police were able to confront the student, who admitted to the threats against the elementary school.
“I think this is the first tip we’ve received at Bedford Elementary School since the system’s been launched,” Bedford Assistant Superintendent, Dr. Paul Ruhlman said.
Ruhlman started calling other administrators, who discovered the treat wasn’t from one of their students.
“It is also disconcerting you know because who is this kid,” Ruhlman said. “Who is this individual? Is this a kid? What is the connection with the Bedford area?”
They then uploaded new Snapchat screenshots of the conversation and the Instagram account of the student in question to the Safe2Say system.
“The tipster provided a lot of really quality information for us, screenshots, and things of that nature,” Ruhlman said. “That allowed us to quickly start to identify students.”
The student who made these threats attends West Allegheny High School. In less than an hour, the West Allegheny Superintendent was on the phone with Bedford School District, something Ruhlman says would be near impossible without the system.
“It really was a powerful tool,” Ruhlman said. “It really showed, I would say, the Safe2Say system at its best.”
The West Allegheny School District had the following to say when we reached out to them:
This communication is to make you aware of a situation that developed overnight due to a tip from Pennsylvania’s Safe2Say Something hotline. District administration and the Findlay Police Department were made aware that a West Allegheny High School student made an active terroristic threat against the Bedford Area School District via social media.
The threat was credible resulting in an active investigation. Based on the current investigation, no threats were made against West Allegheny students or schools. The student has been charged with Felony 3 terroristic threats and appropriate West Allegheny Code of Student Conduct violations. We appreciate your cooperation as our primary concern remains the safety of our students.
West Allegheny administration worked collaboratively with the Bedford Area School District administration to quickly mitigate the potential threat and to ensure the safety of students and staff from both Districts.
Officials said the threat was credible, resulting in an active investigation. The student was also charged with West Allegheny Code of Student Conduct Violations in addition to the felony charge of terroristic threats.
Both school districts remind parents that Safe2Say Something is a youth violence prevention program run by the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General. The program teaches youth and adults how to recognize warning signs and signals, especially within social media, from individuals who may be a threat to themselves or others and to “say something” before it is too late.