Detroit — Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy said Thursday she’s charged 23 youths with school threats and is investigating 10 more cases.
Worthy and Detroit Police Chief James White held a press conference at Detroit Public Safety Headquarters to discuss a recent rash of school threats, including a social media threat that resulted in the closure of Henry Ford High School in Detroit.
Since the Nov. 30 Oxford High School shooting that left four students dead and seven other people injured, Worthy said her office has investigated “copycat cases” throughout the county. Ten of the announced charges involve Detroit students, with the other 13 spread countywide.
Similar charges have been brought against students throughout southeast Michigan. Oakland County school and law enforcement officials last week said they were experiencing a “tidal wave” of school closures in response to threats. In southeast Michigan, more than 60 school districts canceled classes because of threats.
“It’s a crime to make a false threat, even if you have no intention of carrying it out,” Worthy said. “These charges can have lifelong consequences.”
Worthy said all the defendants have been charged as juveniles, and will not receive adult sentences. “The judge will look at each case and fashion a sentence for the rehabilitation of the juvenile; that’s how juvenile court works,” Worthy said.
Worthy said Thursday she began tracking school threats after the 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, which left 17 people dead.
“We’ve had more than 100 threats in Wayne County since Parkland happened,” Worthy said. “I’m not surprised there are copycats now; when Parkland happened, our number soared, which is why we started tracking them.”
White implored parents to talk to their kids about the seriousness of making threats.
“Many of these threats are not credible; however they require a significant number of resources to investigate,” White said. “There’s nothing amusing about threatening to harm others, and if you engage in that behavior, the consequences can be severe.
“It’s very important that parents have conversations with their children to eliminate this unnecessary situation,” White said. “Tell them this is not a joke; the police department doesn’t take it as a joke and we will charge you with a crime.”
Worthy Thursday announced charges against three juveniles who allegedly made threats in Detroit, Taylor and New Boston.
Charges of intentional threat to commit violence against school, school employees or students were announced against a 12-year-old student at Detroit Innovation Academy in Detroit; a 13-year-old student at Taylor Exemplar Academy in Taylor; and a 14-year-old student at Huron High School in New Boston.
Worthy announced Wednesday that she’d charged four minors each with intentional threat to commit an act of violence against a school, school employees or students as well as a malicious use of a telecommunications device. Bond was set at $5,000 for each defendant.
Two Harper Woods High School students were charged Tuesday with calling the school and saying “that everyone should exit the school because they were coming up and shooting,” the Harper Woods Department of Public Safety said in a statement.
On Sunday, Worthy announced she’d charged seven juveniles with school threats.
In addition to the 10 Detroit students, the other charges announced by Worthy stem from Grosse Pointe Farms, Grosse Pointe Woods, New Boston, Taylor, Van Buren Township, Southgate, Harper Woods, Wayne, Melvindale and Wyandotte. Six of the defendants are girls.