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Omaha Police issue stern warning on school threats

Posted: 4:41 PM, Feb 22, 2018
Updated: 2018-02-22 23:21:18Z

The Omaha Police Department hopes to send a strong message to students and parents about how seriously they're taking these threats, calling it a disturbing trend that needs to stop.

In a press conference Thursday afternoon, OPD officials said the department has seen an onslaught of reports since the mass shooting in South Florida last Wednesday:

Local officers have responded dozens of threats at high schools and middle schools, including one at Russell Middle School  at 172nd and Q streets in Millard that ended with an arrest of a boy. OPD said the student made the threat during class, but no weapons were found in their possession.

Police said Thursday they've investigated 34 threat calls since then at metro high schools and middle schools, and arrested three youths. 

Among them was a 17-year-old arrested Tuesday at Millard South for felony terroristic threats. The police report indicates he said he would “shoot everyone and they would hit the ground.”

Deputy Chief Greg Gonzalez said there's been more heightened awareness at schools.

“Generally speaking, all of these that we're referring to have surrounded schools and in schools where someone overhears a conversation involving a threat," he said.

Haley Gabelhaus, who lives near the school — the same school her sister attended — said she's glad police are taking it seriously.

“It would be terrifying and horrible," she said. “It's a young age. Kids should not be saying stuff like that for being in middle school and after everything that's happened no it shouldn't happen."

OPD investigates all of these threats as crimes. Some have led to charges, but not all.

Authorities say they can sometimes be handled by the district, or by getting the student counseling or mental health services.

Gonzales said he wants parents to make sure their children know what they say can have consequences.

“There is no joking matter, especially when it involves physical harm," he said. “The purpose of school is to go learn, and it detracts from learning when someone is removed from your classroom to be interviewed by the police department."