February 21, 2018 10:57 PM
Orono Police Chief Correy Farniok said one juvenile was arrested at Orono High School Wednesday afternoon in connection to a pair of social media posts that caused a lockdown of Orono schools.
Farniok said the male arrested was one of two persons of interest who have been identified in the matter. He said both suspects, who are students, were holed up in Orono High School during the lockdown sitting among other classmates in a classroom.
Police were informed around 10:57 a.m. Wednesday of a pair of threats made on social media, stating, "Today Orono is not safe, I will shoot up the school myself at Noon."
Another student happened upon the posts and police were alerted.
No gun recovered...both juvie suspects go to Orono High School...one arrested terroristic threats....the other being questioned..— Beth McDonough (@bmcdonoughkstp) February 21, 2018
Even though a particular building wasn't named, the menacing message led to a lockdown within minutes. The lockdown lasted for five hours.
"This is why we did what we did, knowing there was a credible threat with specific information," Farniok said.
For safety reasons, a huge perimeter was set up, snow plows blocked entrances, squad cars redirected traffic and families were kept at a safe distance.
During that time, anxious parents waited for hours in their cars outside the perimeter. Many were texting with their kids inside the school.
"The doors are locked, they are hiding behind their desks, they are waiting to hear what to do next," said Sara Ellefson, whose son is an eighth-grader at the middle school.
Students were released an hour after normal dismissal times after Farniok said the investigation determined the posts may have been sent from inside Orono schools. The department called in the FBI and Hennepin County Deputies to use their technology and track down the source of the warning and it's author. One student was arrested in a classroom sitting among other classmates.
"All students at Orono schools are safe," he said. "There is no longer a threat to the school."
Farniok said neither the juvenile arrested nor the second person of interest were armed. The chief said it was too early to tell if the second person of interest would be arrested. Investigators were in the process of getting warrants to search the boys homes for evidence and a possible motive.
Karen Orcutt, the superintendent of Orono schools, reassured students throughout the day on the intercom and their parents on social media, that this was a threat, there was not an intruder.
Orcutt also said classes will resume on a normal schedule Thursday, and crisis team members would be available in each building. Each building would also have a police presence, she said.
"Safety and security are of the utmost importance in our schools and that guided our actions today, we have lockdown drills and we practice this kind of event several times a year," she said.
Beth McDonough, Ellen Galles and Brett Hoffland contributed to this report.
Updated: February 21, 2018 10:57 PM
Created: February 21, 2018 05:30 PM
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