Threat of School Violence in Brooklyn Park Part of Bigger Issue

March 07, 2018 10:43 PM

There have been 21 threats of school violence in Minnesota over the past three weeks, Gov. Mark Dayton announced Wednesday.

One of those occurred in Intermediate School District 287, which works specifically with special needs students. 

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The scare on Feb. 27 started like the others - with chatter on social media, according to Brooklyn Park Deputy Police Chief Mark Bruley. 

RELATED: Dayton Suggests $21M to Improve School Safety

"There were some very disturbing pictures on Facebook of a student with weapons, which was alarming to anybody who saw it," Bruley said.

The threat involved two students at separate campuses, one threatening the other. One attended Northwest Tech Center and the other attended Edgewood Education Center. 

RELATED: State Democrats Vow to Keep Pushing Gun Law Changes

The warning came before school started for the day, and investigators hustled to determine the source and seriousness.  

Administrators with ISD 287 put buildings on "soft lockdown."

All exterior doors were locked, students remained in classrooms with their movements limited, school resource officers were brought in, along with additional officers from Brooklyn Park Police Department. 

The district notified parents of the ongoing situation.

RELATED: Families Give Differing Accounts of Vadnais Heights Weapons Seizure

Authorities said the male suspect was a no-show at school, which made law enforcement's job even harder, according to Bruley.

They didn't know where he was, or if he was armed.

"We're trying to determine the facts," he said. "If it's a legitimate threat and how severe is it?"

The suspect's mother let investigators search their home. 

RELATED: One Juvenile Arrested After Police Say Threats of Shooting Caused Lockdown of Orono Schools

While a weapon wasn't found, the teen was, and he was arrested.  

Authorities acknowledged that while this threat turned out not to be credible, what happened was part of a bigger issue. 

Especially to families in communities that have also seen threats recently.

Places like St. Francis, Rogers, Woodbury, Cloquet, Minneapolis, Orono and Vadnais Heights. 

RELATED: State Safety Experts Train Schools on Handling Threats

Which is why Dayton called for nearly $16 million worth of security improvements in schools Wednesday, along with intervention and support for expelled students. Plus $5 million more to strengthen mental health programs.

"We all have a responsibility, and I have a mission to prevent tragedies from occurring," he said.

At the State Legislature, there are now five plans under review meant to help reduce gun violence, and make it harder for minors to access guns.  

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Beth McDonough

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