Social media posts lead to teen’s arrest, police presence at several Hawaii island schools

Local News

Police were at several Hawaii island schools Wednesday due to a series of social media posts.

At around 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, the Hawaii Police Department was notified of a post that made reference to “shooting up local schools.”

According to police, an investigation revealed the message was posted by a 17-year-old boy.

The teen was taken into custody at around 7 p.m., charged with terroristic threatening in the second degree, and released to a parent.

Although the post did not contain a specific school, police say the teen suspect was connected with Konawaena High School.Related Story: Student arrested after threat made at Leilehua High School

Police were also at Pahoa High and Intermediate School and Keaau High School Wednesday.

In that case, police say insults were exchanged between two female teens on Instagram last month, and a 16-year-old made a comment that referenced bringing a firearm to school.

Police say the girl is not a student.

The posts were brought to school officials’ attention on Tuesday, Feb. 20.

Police opened a harassment case and interviewed the teen. She was later released and the case was routed to Family Court.

Subsequently, social media messages were posted discussing potential shootings that were rumored to take place at both schools.

Police are meeting with school officials and say there is no active shooter situation.

“There were no recent threats made for either school,” said Capt. Samuel Jelsma told Big Island Now‘s Debra Lordan, “only chatter on social media.”

Police say all reported threats referencing a potential school shooting are being investigated thoroughly and are being treated appropriately.

KHON2 spoke to Hawaii County prosecutor Mitch Roth, who say this creates a problem not just for the students but also their parents.

“We have to take these cases seriously, because we saw what happened in Florida and other places, and we can’t take a chance that something like that is going to happen here, so we’ll do everything we can to prevent it,” he said.

Roth says he can’t talk about these specific cases because they involve juveniles, but generally, students who make threats can serve time in the youth correctional facility.

“If not, they can be put on probation, and if they’re on probation, it’s generally a minimum of a year, and it could be all the way up to they’re 19 years old,” Roth said.

Roth warns that parents will also wind up spending a lot of time in Family Court dealing with this.

Because of the growing problem, a national security company called Tactical Institute specializes in finding these threats online. The company says it notified Hawaii island police and the schools of the latest threats.

“There are many times we’ll call the school, specially if it’s a code yellow that’s not that serious, but starting to look like it could be serious. We’ll call the school. We’ll talk to the counselor, hopefully the principal, the school resource officer collaboratively,” said Bob Dowling, Tactical Institute founder.

Dowling says these threats always spike after a deadly shooting, such as the one in Florida last week.

The company is on the lookout and will not hesitate to report it to police.

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