Threats of School Violence Lead to Charges for 12 Iowa Students
School officials and law enforcement agencies around the nation were on high alert at the end of the workweek as threats of school violence circulated on the TikTok app. Arrests happened across the U.S., including a dozen in Iowa.
In Sioux City, a series of students were charged after police found online threats about violence at three different schools. Sioux City Police learned of the threats Thursday night, December 16. They included:
- Sioux City East High School students pointing phones like guns on TikTok posts.
- A post that illustrated a gun threat at Sioux City North Middle School.
- Threats suggested toward Sioux City East Middle School in an online conversation.
- A person who told multiple other people that they were going to take a gun to school.
The Sioux City Police Department (SCPD) determined that the threats were made to cause panic among students and that none of the threats were legitimate. By noon Friday, December 17, harassment charges had been filed against six students. The SCPD says additional charges will be filed. Police also report the school district will keep those students out of school until a full investigation is complete and suspension or expulsion from the Sioux City Community School District is possible.
In West Des Moines, police charged five different students at a junior high school after threats were made on social media. KCRG reports a pair of students were charged with terrorism, a felony. Three other students at Stilwell Junior High School face charges of first-degree harassment. All of the students were under 18.
In a statement, West Des Moines police said,
On Friday specifically, these social media threats quickly caused parents to be concerned which led to an overwhelming amount of phone calls made to the school and parents arriving at the school to remove their children. Accordingly, the School Resource Officer from the West Des Moines Police Department worked directly with staff at Stilwell to investigate these threats as quickly as possible in order to maintain order and the safety of the students and staff.
In Dubuque, a 12-year-old boy was charged after the student posted a social media message that threatened they would bring a gun to school. KWWL says the student was aware of threats around the nation, which motivated him to make the post. The student was located at the school, but he did not have a weapon. He was charged with Threat of Terrorism.
In Cedar Rapids on Friday, a McKinley Middle School student was charged with Carrying a Firearm on School Grounds, a Class-D felony, after school officials found a loaded small-caliber handgun in the male student's locker. The discovery happened after another student alerted officials at the school that the student had brought a gun to school. The student has not been charged with a threat of violence.
Arrests of students for threats of violence at schools were reported across the United States on Friday, December 17. Those included arrests from Salt Lake City, Utah to Brainerd, Minnesota to Palm Coast, Florida.