West Ada

Vague threat of school violence traced to Meridian sixth-grader, doesn’t hurt attendance

On Thursday evening, word spread of an Instagram post darkly warning that “something is going to happen” at Heritage Middle School, and that students should watch out for guns.

A worried parent contacted the West Ada School District, which notified other parents and called Meridian police. Police quickly identified and talked to the sixth-grade girl who posted the threat and determined that it was a hoax.

“Within about an hour we found out that law enforcement had essentially solved the case,” district spokesman Eric Exline said. Parents received that update by about 10 p.m.

“If that hadn’t happened, you would have seen a lot more kids stay home today,” Exline said Friday. Instead, he noted, “Heritage had a fairly regular day.”

It is unclear whether the Heritage student could face juvenile charges, and no determination has been made about what discipline she might receive from the school, Exline said. Options could range from in-school suspension to expulsion.

Unlike the bathroom-wall threat and Instagram post that kept nearly three-quarters of a Nampa high school’s student body home earlier this month, Thursday’s Instagram did not specify a date, time or specific targets for gun violence, Exline said.

“I can’t say I know the motive or inspiration or thought process or why the student thought to post the message,” he said. “But I can say that law enforcement is very good at tracking these things down.”

In the Nampa case, someone wrote a message on a bathroom wall at Skyview High School, warning that multiple shooters would descend on the school at a specific time on April 18. That threat, and its promotion on social media, spurred about 70 percent of the school’s 1,315 students to stay home that day.

No incidents were reported at Skyview, but two students were arrested April 18: an unnamed 16-year-old facing juvenile charges and 18-year-old Martin Soto, who is charged with felony grand theft by possessing a lost handgun.

Kristin Rodine: 208-377-6447