Public Safety

West Branch schools closed due to threat

Threat discovered Tuesday not believed to be credible


Update Friday, 1:50 p.m.: The suspect, a juvenile, has been charged with disorderly conduct, according to authorities. The case has been referred to juvenile court.

Previous Coverage:

WEST BRANCH — A threatening message discovered Tuesday by two students prompted West Branch schools to close Wednesday.

West Branch Police Chief Mike Horihan said the threat, made by a student, is not considered credible. But school and police officials are erring on the side of caution.

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“We took it seriously and didn’t want to take a chance,” Horihan said.

Horihan said the threatening message was found in a school building. How and where the message was posted is part of the ongoing investigation, but Horihan said the suspect — a minor — has been identified. Horihan described the threat as “a prank that kind of took on a life of its own.”

Horihan praised the students who contacted the high school principal when they discovered the threat. The principal, in turn, contacted the West Branch schools superintendent and West Branch police immediately were notified, Horihan said.

“I’ve never had anything like this take place,” said Horihan, who has been chief for six years. “It’s on everyone’s mind and everyone’s thoughts. ... If this had been a true threat, the students, the school did everything they should have.”

Horihan said he expects a resolution to the case in the coming week. He said he expects classes will resume Thursday at West Branch schools.

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