More than a dozen students are facing charges throughout metro Detroit, accused of making school threats and bringing guns to school, as districts throughout Michigan closed as a precaution to investigate concerns.
At one school, officials determined that an online conversation between students speculating how holiday break might be extended wasn't a threat but warranted investigation and an email reminder to parents to urge their children to be careful about what words they might use.
Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy charged five young students Tuesday with making violent threats against multiple schools. That was on top of seven more she had charged earlier after the deadly shooting rampage by a teen at Oxford High.
Other arrests have included Oakland, Macomb, Monroe, and Genesee county students who were accused of making an online threat and having a gun in school.
The new school threat accusations in Wayne County included a 13-year-old boy at Casimir Pulaski Elementary/Middle School in Detroit, a 13-year-old at Brownell School in Grosse Pointe Farms, a 14-year-old boy at J.E. Clark Preparatory Academy in Wayne, a 12-year-old girl at Palmer Park Preparatory Academy in Detroit, and a 12-year-old boy at Strong Middle School in Melvindale.
Earlier Tuesday, the Oakland County Sheriff's office received a shots-fired call at about 8:30 a.m. Tuesday at Walled Lake Central High School, sending it into lockdown. Officials said they found no injuries or evidence of gunfire.
Deputies are now investigating the source of the original 911 call, which may lead to arrests.
In October, a Walled Lake Central student was arrested for posting a threat on social media at the school. That threat indicated there would be a shooting because a student had been bullied.
A Mason Middle School student was taken into custody by the Waterford Police Department, accused of making a threat on social media, the district superintendent said. All Waterford School District classes remained in session and "we are safe."
The district would not release additional information on the student.
In Monroe County, the sheriff's office arrested a 15-year-old student who is accused of making a threat Monday against both Monroe High School and Orchard High School. The teen, officials said, is at the Monroe County Youth Center.
The threat said that there would be a school shooting on Tuesday. The threat, the sheriff's office said, first appeared on Snapchat and was later shared on other social media platforms.
Last week, Sterling Heights Police arrested a girl who is accused of threatening to "shoot up" Stevenson High School.
A 17-year-old Southfield student with a semi-automatic pistol was arrested and a bomb threat was made at South Lake High School, prompting a police investigation.
And a Flint student was charged with terrorism for making threats against Southwestern Classical Academy and state police flocked to Armada High School to investigate a threat that the school was "next" and students were sent home.
Moreover, more than 30 northern Michigan schools and school districts announced closures Tuesday as a result of weather, WWTV/WWUP-TV reported. Winter storm warnings had been in affect up north, with more than 10 inches falling in some places.
In metro Detroit, temperatures dropped overnight into the teens, with only slight snow accumulations expected - tenths of an inch - overnight Tuesday night and early Wednesday.
But in metro Detroit, it was more threats that continued to close schools.
The Melvindale-Northern Allen Park School District announced it was closing on Tuesday "out of an abundance of care, for the safety of our students, staff and community."
That included extra-curricular and after school activities.
Other school closings and delays included Fitzgerald Public Schools, Lincoln High-Ypsilanti, Oak Park High, Riverview School District, St. Joan of Arc Catholic, and Westwood Community Schools, according to WDIV-TV.
Western Michigan schools also were delayed and closed.
They included Allegan Public Schools, Fennville Public Schools, Big Rapids Public Schools, Chippeaa Hills School District, St. Peter Lutheran School in Big Rapids, Freemont Public Schools, Grant Public Schools, Newago Public Schools and White Cloud Public Schools, according to WOOD-TV.
At many schools, students are scared.
The University of Detroit Jesuit did not close Tuesday, but the principal sent an email alerting parents that "we needed to investigate a concerning conversation that was brought to our attention."
A school official later clarified to the Free Press that the private online conversation between students that speculated how holiday break could be extended. No actual threat was made.
But the school emphasized that even joking about threats could initiate an investigation.
The school said it was "able to determine in a short time period that our school was safe." It also urged parents to remind their sons that "their words, whether in person or online, can have lifelong consequences."
Oxford High School survivor Phoebe Arthur goes home: 'She is a fighter'
In the aftermath of Oxford school shooting, our kids think they're going to die
Zeina Jebril, the principal of Dearborn High, sent a letter Tuesday noting that social media comments urged students to "not go to school today." There was no mention, however, of "violence, shooting or any other type of threatening behavior."
A police presence has been heightened at the school.
Moreover, Jebril added, dozens of school districts have had to close due to "false and misleading statements being posted on social media by students looking to take advantage of a horrific tragedy."
Contact Frank Witsil: 313-222-5022 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Threat investigations in Michigan lead to charges, school closings