Five teens are expected in court Friday after authorities said they found evidence the teens threatened to commit a shooting at Hutchinson High School, authorities said Thursday.
The teens likely face charges of criminal threat and solicitation to commit first-degree murder, said Reno County Attorney Keith Schroeder Schroeder. He would not offer specifics, saying they were evidence in the case.
“This case has progressed beyond just a concern or a suspicion,” he said Thursday.
The teens, four of whom are 16 and one of whom is 17, “encouraged each other to commit the school shooting,” Schroeder said. They face detention hearings in Reno County District Court.
Two of the teens are current Hutch High students and two are former students. The fifth attended another high school in Reno County, which authorities would not identify. The two former Hutch High students were expelled, one in October and the other in January, officials said.
The teens were arrested after someone noticed postings on Facebook and contacted the Hutchinson school district. School officials, in turn, alerted the police, Schroeder said.
Following an investigation, the five teens were arrested Wednesday and taken to the Reno County Youth Services Detention Facility, Hutchinson Police Capt. Troy Hoover said in a statement.
While the teens could be tried as adults, “at this point, I think the juvenile system can adequately handle the situation,” Schroeder said.
Facebook has filled with comments from people claiming the threats weren’t serious, that it was all just a bad joke.
“Well, we’re not laughing,” Schroeder said. “We can’t take this as a joke. We have to take it seriously.
“We’re not going to gamble with other students’ lives on the fact that it’s supposed to be a bad joke.”
The message he wants to send to other students in the wake of these arrests, Schroeder said, is simple.
“If they’re thinking of making these kinds of statements on social media, they need to be prepared to be arrested,” he said. “There will be consequences.”