A 14-year-old is accused of making a terroristic threat to Marshall Middle School, Janesville police reported Saturday, but school authorities and police do not believe any actual threat exists.
Police were notified of a threat on social media that included a photo of a firearm at 7:10 p.m. Friday.
Officers confirmed the firearm was a facsimile, police said. The juvenile admitted sending the message and was held at the county juvenile detention center in Janesville.
Sgt. Chad Pearson said the teen, a student at Marshall, told police he did it as a joke and did not intend for the message to go out on Snapchat, but it was sent accidentally.
The message was a threat to come to the school with weapons, Pearson said.
“Officers from the Janesville Police Department and the Janesville School District jointly worked to ensure the safety of the students at Marshall Middle School and the community,” a police news release states.
School was not in session Friday. School district spokesman Patrick Gasper said school officials became aware of the threat about the same time as police.
Additional student-services staff will be available Monday at Marshall in case students want to talk about it, Gasper said, but otherwise, school will be operating under normal procedures.
In a Facebook post, the school district noted students can help keep their schools safe.
“Students, families, staff and community members should use this as an example of the absolute necessity of reporting any and all threats towards a school or to students and staff,” the Facebook statement says.
“Families are strongly encouraged to talk to their children as well as monitor their social media activity,” the statement continues.
“Thank you to the families and community members who made immediate contact with school administration and law enforcement regarding this threat,” the statement says. “As we are teaching students responsibility and leadership, it is important that they be able to share their concerns with teachers and other adults.”
The statement concludes: “Because of your quick response and action and prompt follow-up by the Janesville Police Department, there is no threat to the safety of our Marshall students, families, or staff.”
Wisconsin statutes classify terroristic threats as a Class I felony, which for an adult carries a maximum prison term of three years and six months.