A United Township High School student and a 17-year-old boy from Germany have been charged in connection with threats via phone made against the school in the last week.
The East Moline Police Department said late Thursday afternoon that the student, a 15-year-old girl, was arrested on a charge of transmitting a threat of violence directed against persons at a school while acting with another, a Class 1 felony.
The high school was placed on lockdown Thursday morning for about an hour after the police department received a call from someone who threatened to “cause some violence” at UTHS, Capt. Thomas Reagan said.
The call was similar to one that was received on Aug. 17, he said.
“The same lady that took the call on Friday (Aug. 17) took today’s call and said it was the exact same voice,” Reagan told reporters. “He actually called our department twice today.”
Reagan said the school, as well as the neighboring East Moline School District, were put on lockdown as a precaution.
Extra officers were on hand both inside and around the perimeter of the school for the remainder of the day, he said.
East Moline police investigators traced the calls back to the same number and account user in Hagen, Germany, Lt. Darren Gault said.
Police in Hagen on Thursday interviewed the boy, who confessed to making both phone call threats and said he knew someone at UTHS through an online gaming platform, Gault said.
Hagen police said they would pursue criminal charges against the boy in Germany, he said.
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Gault said the girl, who knew the boy through an online messaging app for gamers, asked the boy to make the threat.
He said that although the case is still under investigation, there is no evidence they made plans for a shooting.
“There is no ongoing threat to the student body,” Gault said.
During Thursday’s lockdown, anxious parents waited across the street for more information.
The fact that the threat was not substantiated did not ease the mind of Tammy Williams, whose son and daughter attend UT.
“Not at all because the cops could simply say that it’s nothing, and then leave and something could happen,” she said. “All it takes is for someone to get in the school and we could have tragedy.”
Williams said she believed parents’ minds would be more at ease if there were more safety measures at the school, such as metal detectors and book bag checks.
When asked about concerns that parents were not notified fast enough, Reagan said that the department’s first priority is the safety of the students.
“I understand as a parent myself that it’s important to disseminate information and we try to do that as quickly as possible so that the parents know that one, their kids are safe and two, what level of a lockdown that we’re at,” he said.
He encouraged parents to follow the police department on its Facebook and Twitter pages, as well as the school’s social media accounts.