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Juvenile Faces Felony Charges in Threats Against Quakertown Schools
Written by Staff Report
2021-04-14

            The Bucks County District Attorney's Office recently charged an unidentified 14-year-old juvenile with making several false threats against two schools in the Quakertown Community School District. The juvenile faces five counts each of making terroristic threats – graded as third-degree felonies – as well as misdemeanor making false reports to law enforcement authorities, disorderly conduct and false reports through Safe2Say Something, an anonymous tip line. Charges were filed Friday, April 9, according to information posted on the DA's Crimewatch page.

              The incidents – which occurred between January and March – targeted three individuals in the false reports made on seven dates in January, claiming these individuals were either going to harm themselves or others. In March, the juvenile used the app to make threats of violence at Strayer Middle School and Quakertown High School, forcing schools to close as police investigated the validity of the tips. An investigation conducted by the Quakertown Police Department included the application of an explosives detection dog to search the school because the threats named explosives. 

              Safe2Say Something is a youth violence prevention program run by the Pennsylvania Office of the Attorney General. Using a phone app, Safe2Say is used in all schools throughout the state, so students can anonymously submit reports of unsafe activities or threats.

             "Safe2Say serves as an incredibly powerful tool in helping get students the assistance they need and report potential threats to themselves, their communities and their schools," Attorney General Josh Shapiro said in the statement. "False tips, like those of this individual, account for a small fraction of the tips we receive but ultimately make it harder for young people to get the help they need.  There are serious consequences to fabricating reports, which pull law enforcement and school personnel to take action.  Fake reporting put the entire system at risk.  I call on all students to take this platform seriously and protect it so it can continue to save lives."

            Messages left on the anonymous tip line led to a one-day closure of Strayer Middle School on March 8 and at Quakertown Community High School on March 12. On both days, the principals called for virtual synchronous instruction, according to Gary Weckselblatt, the district's director of communications.

            In another incident, on March 24, an 18-year-old female was charged with using the app to send a tip that that someone was going to bomb and shoot up Upper Bucks County Technical School. The school closed to in-person instruction on March 17 as police investigated. Authorities later determined that it was a false report, according to the information.

            "If you are thinking of misusing or abusing the Safe2Say app, let these two arrests serve as your warning," Bucks County District Attorney Matt Weintraub said. "If you abuse or misuse the Safe2Say app for improper reasons, law enforcement is committed to tracking you down and you will be held accountable for your criminal conduct." Weintraub said the application has been overwhelmingly successful in preventing suicides and other dangerous situations.  

            "Safe2Say has led us to expose potential harms before they occur, and that's the whole goal. To keep our kids safe in school," he said. "I'm a huge proponent and believer in the Safe2Say program. It works, it saves lives and it's doing what it's designed to do."


 

 

 

 

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