Fri., 11:33am: Facebook threat puts high school on alert

SALEM – Area police were looking for a 16-year-old Beloit boy in connection with a threat made on Facebook against a Salem High School student, putting the school on heightened alert Thursday.

“We are currently investigating a threat made by a juvenile to another juvenile. This does not directly involve the school and Salem City Schools are not on lockdown,” Salem Police Chief J.T. Panezott posted on the department’s Facebook page early in the afternoon.

When contacted, Panezott said an auxiliary officer was flagged down at a bus stop by the mother of the male student being threatened on Facebook, who was going to the high school to talk to officials there. Police officers spoke to her at the school and verified there was no threat made to the high school.

Panezott said it didn’t appear that the threat was going to take place at the school, but that it was a serious threat. The threat made on Facebook involved a possible weapon. Police made contact with the school administration, but there was no lockdown, despite what was being said on Facebook.

Salem High School Principal and Superintendent-to-be Dr. Joseph Shivers reported that he, Junior High Principal Sean Kirkland and Dean of Students Hank Brock walked through the first floor and asked teachers to close and lock their doors, but students still changed classes. Kirkland, Brock and Steve Bosel stayed in the hallways to keep traffic down, scrutinized every visitor (which they already do anyway) and they kept in touch with police.

The district sent a call-out message to custodial parents of all students to tell them there was no immediate threat and not to worry. Shivers said the school took precautions, but the school day proceeded with little interruption, with certain staff on high alert.

Noting there was no direct reference to Salem High School in the threat, he said “we wanted to be as precautionary as we could.”

Panezott said his department was in contact with Goshen Township Police and Alliance Police. Through their investigation, it was determined the suspect was not currently enrolled at West Branch and wasn’t involved in any school that they could determine. Officers interviewed several Salem students who may have had information about the suspect.

He said their main concern was finding him and getting him into custody. As of Thursday night, he remained at large.

Salem Police signed a charge against him for delinquency for aggravated menacing related to the alleged threat. He’s also wanted for an order of apprehension out of the Mahoning County Juvenile Justice Center related to an alleged violation of a court order on an original charge of theft.