Teen faces attempted murder charge

A 15-year-old student at Seymour High School is facing a charge of attempted murder in connection with the threat of an attack being carried out at the school in 2018.

Seymour police arrested the teen Tuesday morning on the Level 1 felony at the recommendation of the Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office, Chief Bill Abbott said.

“Based on the information and evidence we have been able to gather and examine through this investigation, there was a documented threat made against a specific student,” Abbott said.

The intended target, another male student, has been made aware of the threat along with his family, Abbott said.

Jackson County Prosecutor AmyMarie Travis said the decision to arrest the youth came about after discussions with police about the potential for the attack to be carried out.

She said the threat, uncovered by school officials and police, was sometime in the distant future.

“But it’s reasonable to think someone might up the date of their plan once they realize police were onto it,” she said. “In light of that potential threat, he was arrested and taken to the juvenile detention center.”

Detective C.J. Foster and officer Crystal Schapson made the arrest.

The teen is now being held at the Jackson County Juvenile Detention Center in Brownstown pending his initial court hearing.

Abbott said he didn’t know if the teen would be charged as an adult, at which time his name would be made public.

Travis said her office will look at the possibility of waiving the youth to adult court as part of the overall investigation, but as a rule juveniles generally are supposed to remain in juvenile court.

She said a waiver is not the first option.

The investigation is ongoing and will be for some time, Abbott said. There could be additional charges brought against the student as the case progresses, he said.

School officials learned of the threat late Thursday and made public their knowledge of it by sending a letter home to parents Monday, asking them to be aware of their children’s Internet activity.

Some of the evidence against the teen includes conversations on social media, along with verbal comments overheard by another student, school officials said Monday.

Principal Greg Prange said the student who learned of the threat brought it to the attention of a school guidance counselor, who then involved administrators and the school resource officer.

“While this situation is still under investigation, we have taken steps to make sure our students and staff are safe,” he said. “The student has been suspended pending due process.”

The next likely step to be taken by the school is expelling the student for the remainder of the school year, he said.

Superintendent Rob Hooker said the attack was planned for April 20, 2018, which is the 19th anniversary of the Columbine High School shootings in 1999 that killed 13 and wounded more than 20 others. At that time, Columbine was the worst school shooting in U.S. history.

Officials said they don’t believe other students are involved at this time or that the teen was being bullied. Information about the situation was not released immediately so as not to panic students, parents and the community and to preserve the integrity of the investigation, Hooker said.

“We had no reason to believe students or teachers were in any imminent danger,” he said.

Police and school officials have not released any information on what kind of weapons the student may have been planning to use.

Author photo
January Rutherford is a reporter for The (Seymour) Tribune. She can be reached at jrutherford@tribtown.com or 812-523-7069.