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Mike Anderson, KSL TV

Police: Utah teens talked about school shooting on bus, social media

By Pat Reavy, KSL | Updated - Dec 4th, 2018 @ 7:23pm | Posted - Dec 4th, 2018 @ 11:36am



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SALT LAKE CITY — Two 16-year-old boys were recently investigated in Cache County for creating an Instagram account that focused on school shootings, according to court documents.

The social media account created by the teens contained "multiple pictures and words making fun of and glorifying school shooters," according to four search warrant affidavits filed in 1st District Court.

The posts included “Star Wars” characters and Mickey Mouse making references to school shootings, the warrants state. The account had more than 50 followers, most of whom were identified as Mountain Crest High School students, according to the warrants.

The investigation into the boys began Nov. 10 when the SafeUT app received an anonymous tip from a student at Mountain Crest High School in Hyrum stating, "I don't know if it was a joke or not. I heard (a boy) joking about bringing a gun on the bus or to school and shooting people. I don't know if that was a joke or true," the warrants state.

The school resource officer began investigating and talked to a witness who was on the bus and also overheard the two teens "talking about plans to '(shoot) up the school bus then the school,'" according to the warrant. "The witness also heard them talking about wearing bandanas when they executed their plans."

A dozen bullets of various calibers were seized from the home of one of the boys, according to one of the affidavits.

It was not clear Tuesday if either boy was charged. Cache County School District spokesman Tim Smith said both boys were suspended for eight days. One boy has since been allowed to return to the high school while another now attends an alternative high school, he said.

Smith said the district took the threats seriously and immediate action was taken when officials found out.

Tuesday afternoon, the Cache County Sheriff's Office issued a prepared statement saying investigators "(do) not believe there is an actionable threat to the safety of our kids."

The sheriff's office stated that it conducted an "exceptionally thorough investigation" that was still ongoing on Tuesday, and that "resources and safety plans have been initiated for the safety of all the kids in our schools" through a combined effort with the sheriff's office, Cache County Attorney's Office, the school district and Bear River Mental Health.

Several students the Deseret News talked to said they had heard about what happened, and most said the students were posting memes about school shootings on the Instagram account as a joke. But students, like Dillon Smith, also agreed it was a "stupid" thing to do.

"I think he shouldn’t joke around about it. It’s something that should be taken a lot more serious,” he said.

"It’s sad to see that somebody would do that at Mountain Crest,” added senior Jarin James.

The sheriff's office reminded the public on Tuesday that if they "see something, say something," and asked that they report suspicious activity to law enforcement.

The SafeUT Crisis Text and Tip Line is a statewide service that provides real-time crisis intervention to youth through texting and a confidential tip program. In addition to reporting threats, the app can also be used by students who want to report suspicious activity or potential threats, or for those looking for help with bullying, mental health or suicide-related issues.

Contributing: Mike Anderson

Pat Reavy

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