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SAXONBURG (KDKA) — A student has been taken into police custody and the South Butler County School District is operating on a “modified lockdown.”
According to district officials, it stems from “a serious threat to student safety.”
Watch Meghan Schiller’s report —
The district was alerted to the threat by the Penn Township Police Department. One student has been arrested.
That student has been identified as 18-year-old Jason Bowen, a senior at Knoch High School.
Authorities say Bowen posted a video of himself to Snapchat. In it, he can be seen firing an AK-style rifle with the caption “Training for Prom Walk.” Police say a classmate alerted police to the Bowen’s video on Sunday night.
Middlesex Township Police Officer Randy Ruediger: “The indication was that some violence was going to occur at the prom walk. No specific threat was made towards any specific school.”
KDKA’s Meghan Schiller: “So, no immediate threat was planned for today?”
Officer Ruediger: “No immediate threat. We don’t have any reason to believe there’s an immediate threat to any students at this time.”
Police say, in addition to the rifle, they also found drugs, ammunition and brass knuckles in Bowen’s bedroom.
Investigators said the rifle did not belong to the suspect, but rather an acquaintance of the suspect.
<Video courtesy of Cabot News and Community> pic.twitter.com/Beb8WOEe4G
— MEGHAN SCHILLER (@MeghanKDKA) January 7, 2019
In a message posted to the district’s website, they say the district is operating on a “modified lockdown” with no visitors being allowed onto school grounds.
They are also asking that all “non-essential visitors not report to the district today.”
“We’ve been preparing for things like this just as all school districts have been preparing. I’m very proud of our team. We have a protocol that we work through, and we did that, we did that properly,” said school district Superintendent Dr. David Foley.
While “no credible threat” remains, officials say the district will be operating under tightened security for the “foreseeable future.”
The precautionary lock-down at South Butler School District will be lifted on Tuesday, including at Knoch High School where the suspect last attended.
Foley said the district is always on a “lock-down” per se, but added that no visitors were allowed on campus Monday.
He made the decision to put the school on this precautionary lock-down because the arrest happened so close to the start of classes.
“By the time they really worked through and narrowed down where the student went and who the student was it was very close to the school day,” Foley said.
Officer Randy Ruediger with the Middlesex Township Police Department said an AK style rifle, ammunition, a bag of drug paraphernalia and brass knuckles will now be turned over to evidence. When asked how they figured out the name of the suspect, Officer Ruediger said, “We already had some information that indicated who the individual was, plus it showed his screen name so that kind of narrowed it down.”
Officer Ruediger said the suspect never singled out a specific school in the alleged threat.
“The indication was that some violence was going to occur at a prom walk. No specific threat was made towards any specific school, we just assumed by his indication of a prom walk that he was referring to the South Butler School District,” Ruediger said.
Watch Ralph Iannotti’s report —
A judge originally set Bowen’s bail at $25,000, but she later increased it to $100,000 cash because of the seriousness of the threat.
“It is my intention to get that bond lowered. I’ll be working with his family, who are good people, who have no history of anything, who are respected in the community, to address these matters.” David Shrager, Bowen’s attorney, told KDKA News Monday night.
Shrager says Bowen’s parents were shocked and dismayed by their son’s actions. He said the Snapchat post was not a real threat, but something from a teenager using extremely poor judgement.
“What [Jason] said was inappropriate. It was not funny. It was not amusing, but to his mind, it was a joke,” Shrager said.