Authorities arrested a north Texas teenager accused of taking part in a hoax bomb threat last week to get out of high school early. Law enforcement agents continue to search for a second suspect believed to be out of state.
In a press conference Monday, the Trophy Club Police Department confirmed they arrested an underage Byron Nelson High School student who they charged with making a false alarm or report, a state jail felony, according to Chapter 37 of the Texas Education Code. Detectives did not release any details on the identity of the student because the individual is a minor.
The incident occurred on January 30. Northwest Independent School District Superintendent Ryder Warren explained about the purported threats in a memo sent to families last week. The first of six phone calls began at 2:46 p.m. while a text message claimed a threatening individual was inside the school with a handgun and planted a number of pipe bombs throughout the building. School administrators placed the campus on lockdown. Officials released students and staff around 7 p.m. following a bomb squad’s thorough sweep of the campus. Officers gave the “all clear” to allow vehicles to leave the premises much later that evening.
On Monday, Trophy Club Police Chief Patrick Arata told reporters that since the arrest, the minor told officers he met the person who made the calls on the Internet. Arata noted, “this individual had an idea to want to help him get out of school early…”
Allegedly, the “arrestee” was inside the classroom texting the caller to provide information about police activities on the ground during the lockdown, including a SWAT team, bomb squad, and assisting helicopters, said Arata. “Not only did the caller enjoy taunting the police but mocked the response,” he added. During one of the calls, the individual told officers he did not want to hurt the kids but wanted to hurt police, said Arata. However, in the final call, the caller said it was all a hoax.
Officers believe the alleged caller is not in Texas and has never attended Northwest ISD, noted Arata. He indicated local law enforcement continues to work with state and federal counterparts to track down this other individual.
The chief took a moment to point out the gravity of the situation and the potentially serious consequences the teenager may face if found guilty. Arata said he hoped the student learns from this and it does not ruin the juvenile’s life. It is unknown if the minor was ever in trouble before or if this was a first offense.
“Parents, please have the necessary conversations with your children to ensure they understand the long-term implications of their actions, to ensure that tragedies such as this never repeat itself in our community,” Arata underscored.
Northwest ISD issued a written statement regarding the student’s arrest, advising the district continues to work with the town of Trophy Club while police conduct their investigation. Although federal and state law limits what a school district can divulge about their students, Northwest ISD indicated “appropriate action will be taken in accordance with the Student Handbook and the Code of Conduct,” which outlines behavioral expectations and disciplinary punishments for infractions including threats, hoaxes, discretionary actions, and sometimes, perceived threats, per the state’s 1995 Safe Schools Act and education code.
The school district thanked the community for its support following the incident. The superintendent stated: “As educators, we are able to guide our students toward their futures by making smart decisions. If a choice is made that leads someone down the wrong path, it is necessary to learn from a bad decision and understand the impact that makes. I encourage our parents to continue their partnership with Northwest ISD by taking an opportunity to talk to their children so they fully understand the lasting impact a wrong decision can have.”
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