Three juveniles have been arrested in connection with threats that led to the cancellation of classes last Friday at Paoli Community Schools.
Two 17-year-olds and a 16-year-old were arrested after detectives developed probable cause for their alleged roles in posting the threats.
All three juveniles were taken into custody earlier this afternoon in Paoli, and were transported to a juvenile detention center. Each juvenile is being charged with Intimidation, a Level 6 Felony.
On Thursday, January 25, 2018, around 5:00 p.m., law enforcement was made aware of a post on a social media account that threatened to do harm to local schools. The Indiana State Police, Orange County Sheriff’s Office, and Paoli Police Department immediately began to investigate the origin and validity of the of the threat.
Later in the evening of January 25th a second post appearing to be from the same site was posted. The Paoli School Corporation was informed of the findings and later decided, for the safety of all involved, to cancel school this past Friday, January 26, 2018.
After the first threat came in about 5p Thursday evening, Paoli Community School Officials decided to have a two-hour delay on Friday to figure out if the threat was imminent.
Later in the evening, another threat showed up on social media and the schools were closed.
Indiana State Police Sgt. Chad Dick said law enforcement was able to figure that the post seen locally was a screenshot of a post that originated outside of the area and outside of the country.
“Later in the evening, another post from that same site showed up. That’s when the corporation decided to call school off for the day. For the safety of everyone,” Dick said.
State Police, Orange County Sheriff’s Department and Paoli Police Department officers have been working with school officials to investigate.
“We are continuing to investigate it,” said Dick. “It’s very complex. With technologies used and it can be very daunting and difficult.”
Eastern School Corporation closed its doors Thursday after threats appeared online from a foreign app called Saraha and shared through Snapchat.
“I think this is going to be the same thing,” said Dick. “Sounds like it’s going to be the same thing. I live in Dubois County. On Veteran’s Day, the same thing came out. Once again it’s so difficult when it’s overseas.”
When posed with the question of why these threats would be coming from overseas to schools in rural Indiana, Dick had this to say:
“Obviously the significance of anyone who’s trying to cause terror is to make people afraid,” said Dick. “What was put out last night was enough to cause the officials to close the school. It was threats to the school corporation. Bad enough for them to cancel school for the day. Terrorists want to instill fear. What better way than to pick on rural communities. Once we’re connected to the world like we are now, things that used to be passed around by paper come from anywhere in the world.”
From the time these threats were reported to law enforcement, investigators have been working diligently to determine who was responsible for these criminal acts.
While the state police will not comment on specifics of how this crime was solved and what social media apps were used to communicate these threats, the clear message is these crimes are vigorously investigated and are not treated as pranks.
Engaging in communication of ‘anonymous’ threats can have lifelong consequences for people arrested and prosecuted for such crimes. And as demonstrated by this investigation, nothing on the Internet is ever truly ‘anonymous.’
Assisting Agencies: Orange County Sheriff’s Office and Paoli Police Department
Persons arrested for alleged criminal acts are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.