5 teens to stay in custody Hutchinson school threats

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HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — Five teenagers charged in juvenile court with threatening to commit shootings on the last day of school at Hutchinson High School will remain in custody.

After a Reno County judge ruled Friday that a 16-year-old boy would not be released from the juvenile detention center where he and four friends had been held since being arrested on Wednesday, the other four waived their hearings and will remain in custody.

The five face felony charges of solicitation to commit first-degree murder and criminal threat. They are all ages 16 and 17. They were arrested after the school reported the threats posted on Facebook. Court records indicate the threats were not aimed at specific people, The Wichita Eagle reported (http://bit.ly/1GF9DGw ).

Each of the teens was charged Thursday with encouraging one another "to commit, attempt to commit, or aid and abet in the commission of" first-degree murder between Jan. 1 and April 29 and of intending to cause fear or with reckless "disregard of the risk of causing such fear." They were arrested after someone saw some of the threats on Facebook and notified school officials, who called police, Reno County District Attorney Keith Schroeder said.

Two of the teens are current Hutchinson High School students and two are former students who had been expelled, while the fifth attended another Reno County school, The Eagle reported.

Defense attorney Ben Fisher said at Friday's hearing that the state provided "very, very limited and little information" to justify the charges against one of the 16-year-old boys, who he said had no prior criminal history and poses no danger to the community.

Four of the boys are due back in court May 19 for a pretrial conference. The fifth boy is scheduled for his pretrial conference on May 26.

Reno County Assistant District Attorney Cheryl Allen said in court Friday that the teens belonged to a group called "Kill Yourself or Die" and that they referred to themselves as "a bunch of Klebolds" at least once on social media, a reference to one of two teens involved in the deadly school shooting in 1999 at Columbine High School in Colorado. They discussed carrying out a similar-style shooting at Hutchinson High School on the last day of the school year, she said.

"I don't know that we can, at this point in the investigation when there are so many things to learn, so many more things that they (authorities) are going to be looking at ... to take a chance that it is a joke," Allen said. Right now, his release "is just too early and too premature," she said.

"We still have the last day of school to go, and I don't want to take that risk."

A few dozen high-school-aged students were at court Friday to support for their jailed peers.

The last day of school at Hutchinson High School is May 21.


Information from: The Wichita (Kan.) Eagle, http://www.kansas.com

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