COVENTRY, R.I. (WPRI) — A Coventry high school student accused of posting a threatening message on social media was arraigned in family court Thursday on disorderly conduct charges and ordered held on home confinement.
The 15-year-old is accused of posting a video on Snapchat, which shows someone loading what appears to be a gun. It had a caption that read, “Don’t come to school tomorrow.”
Police said a female student saw the message and alerted authorities. The weapon, police said, turned out to be an airsoft gun. They said the boy admitted to making the video.
This was the second time in five months that student social media threats involving a weapon were investigated in Coventry.
Last June, Coventry police and the school administration investigated a case involving a pellet gun that was brought to the middle school in a student’s backpack after racial slurs and threats were made on social media.
While school officials and police insisted there was no threat to student safety during this latest incident, they did have extra officers at the school Thursday as a precautionary measure.
“Any threat on its face like that has to be taken seriously,” said Coventry Police Sgt. James Poccia. “At this point, I have no reason to believe it was credible. But, I don’t know any further motivation behind it.”
Police told Eyewitness News the student in question will not be allowed back at the school until a risk assessment is complete.
“Making threats like that is not fun and will be taken seriously and prosecuted if possible,” Poccia said.
Eyewitness News spoke with Coventry School Superintendent Craig Levis about the incident. He said he worried 20 to 25 percent of students wouldn’t come to school Thursday. However, he said the video threat did not impact school attendance at all.
Elizabeth Vaughn’s twins are freshmen at the school. She said the incident has them shaken.
“They were kind of freaked out by it, but with the increased police presence, I think everything will be fine here today,” Vaughn said. “Are they afraid” They are. Are they cautious? A little more so. And hopefully, they’re behaving with their social media posts as well.”
She had an important message for all students going forward.
“Think twice before you post anything. Really, seriously think about it before you post anything.”