Two Madison Middle School students are in custody after admitting to a discussion about "shooting up" the school.
Major Joe Masi of the Richland County Sheriff's Office said the investigation is ongoing, but he is confident all suspects have been apprehended.
Charges were filed against both suspects, but specific details regarding the charges aren't immediately available.
MADISON TOWNSHIP — Two children are in custody after an investigation into shooting threats regarding Madison Middle School.
Richland County Prosecutor Jodie Schumacher filed charges against two 12-year-old students Wednesday morning. The charges stem from an alleged discussion between the two about bringing firearms to school to shoot classmates and teachers.
Schumacher declined to disclose the specific charges because the suspects are juveniles.
“The matter is being handled appropriately, we are reviewing and taking everything into account,” she said.
The Richland County Sheriff’s Office was notified of a potential shooting threat Tuesday around 9:35 p.m. Major Joe Masi said officers worked the case through the night, identifying and questioning students involved.
According to an RSCO incident report, a man contacted the agency on Tuesday after his daughter received a Snapchat message from one of the suspects. The suspect, a classmate, told her not to attend school the next day.
When the man’s daughter asked why, the student responded with a gun emoji.
Authorities identified the student suspect as a 12-year-old female. The girl told officers she was going to attend school Wednesday “and shoot whoever she sees,” according to the report. She also told officers she planned to kill other students and teachers before shooting herself.
When asked why, the girl told officers she is being bullied. She also said she had been suicidal in the past and was currently feeling suicidal.
The girl confirmed to officers she’d told a few of her friends to stay home from school. She also said she did not have access to firearms, but another student agreed to bring two guns to school Wednesday morning.
The girl told officers that student, also identified as a suspect in the report, had previously sent her pictures of the guns.
Deputies located and questioned the second suspect, a 12-year-old boy. The boy confirmed the girl had approached him at school and asked “if he wanted to help her shoot up the school.”
According to the RCSO report, the boy told officers he agreed and said he would bring two guns to school. However, the boy told officers he didn’t know she was serious, that he was joking and he did not mean what he said.
In a press release issued Wednesday afternoon, the RCSO said both suspects are being evaluated by medical professionals and would be transported to the Richland County Juvenile Attention Center afterwards.
‘It is safe to send your child to school’
Madison Supt. Rob Peterson said the RCSO notified him of the threats Tuesday around 10 p.m. In a message sent via the district’s automated notification system, Peterson informed families of the investigation.
“The RCSO has assured the district that these students will be charged to the full extent of the law, that they would not be in school today, and that there is no threat to the school,” Peterson wrote. “Please know that it is safe to send your child to school today and moving forward.”
Peterson said the RCSO will have an additional three deputies patrol throughout all district buildings through Friday. He also said suspects will be dealt with by the school district “with the most severe consequences possible.”
“Anything that is related to the safety of our students and staff, we take it very seriously and we act promptly,” Peterson said.
‘This was a serious threat’
Masi said threats against local schools “come and go,” but this one felt different.
“We will go many months or maybe even a year or so without any of these types of calls, then it seems like we’ll have several calls within a short amount of time,” he said.
“I think this one is a little bit more unique. Sometimes there are pranks. I think this was a serious threat contemplated by the suspect.”
Masi advised any student who observes a potential threat to notify law enforcement or a trusted adult immediately.
“You can’t predict the future, whether someone is going to follow through with threats or not. But by the student reporting it to their parents and their parents reporting it to us, it gave us the opportunity to investigate,” he said.
Masi also praised the work of his deputies and the school district for its cooperation.
“The deputies did a great job investigating it and finding out the facts and I think the superintendent of Madison did a superb job as far as communicating with the sheriff’s office and working alongside the sheriff’s office throughout the night,” he said.
Peterson said he felt a deep appreciation for the student and parents who contacted law enforcement.
“Thank you very much for doing the right thing. When you saw something, you said something and brought it to the attention of the authorities and we were able to avert a potentially very bad situation,” Peterson said.
“Throughout the district, we had a good school day.”