Milton, NH, students said to mouth off may now face charges

By Danielle Curtis, Foster's Daily Democrat
Posted April 05, 2012, at 6:16 a.m.

MILTON, N.H. — Local police launched an investigation last week after two Nute High School students were overheard discussing people they’d like to “get rid of”— statements that will likely bring charges against both of them.

A local parent, meanwhile, said she’s upset she didn’t hear about the incident from the school, saying no letter or phone call was ever sent out to the student body or parents.

Milton Police Chief Mark McGowan said Wednesday he could not provide much information on the incident, which occurred during the school day on March 26, because it involves juveniles. He said the department is taking the incident very seriously.

While a local parent told Foster’s her son heard the students specifically discussing a shooting and how they would do it, McGowan said the department’s investigation has lead them to believe that was not the case, and the rumors spreading about the situation are not entirely true.

“There was not a threat directly made, it was two kids talking — about inappropriate things — but there was never a published (hit) list,” he said. “It did cause some alarm, and rightfully so … but there was never a list, never any weapons, they were talking about people they didn’t like that they would get rid of.”

Students who overheard the two talking reported the situation to school officials, who then reported it to police, he said.

McGowan said the department’s investigation is ongoing and officers have interviewed students who overheard the statements, as well as the subjects themselves. It was determined they did not have any weapons at the time the statements were made, he said, and it appears as though they still have no access to any weapons.

“I can’t say that for sure … it’s hard to say they’d never have the ability (to get weapons),” he said. “But at this point it doesn’t look like they have access.”

McGowan said while he could not comment on what type of charges the juveniles could face, he is certain some type of charges will be brought against each of them. Charges of criminal threatening, however, would not be appropriate, he said.

“Under our criminal threatening law, a threat has to be directly made toward somebody and the victim needs to believe the threat,” he said. “What they were saying could have been taken threateningly, but it doesn’t meet the standard for criminal threatening. But there are other laws we’re looking at that will be applied.”

The school, he said, has taken action, though he could not comment on how the school dealt with disciplining the students involved.

Milton Superintendent Gail Kushner said in an email Wednesday the situation is a confidential student matter and she could not go into detail about it.

“There were allegations of inappropriate threatening comments,” she wrote. “This matter was investigated internally and dealt with appropriately. District policies and procedures were followed.”

The local parent who spoke to Foster’s about the incident, however, said while police and school officials say the situation is dealt with, she is angry school officials did not reach out to parents.

“The school was never going to tell and that was a huge concern to me,” she said Wednesday. “We get letters over the silliest things, why wasn’t there a letter sent home about this?”

The woman said her son is afraid to go back to school and she is nervous to send him, saying she is not confident in the way the district would handle a similar situation if it were to happen again.

“If this ever happens again, we want to make sure they handle it better,” she said. “Probably more than three-quarters of the school still doesn’t know this happened and for this long, it’s amazing … I feel like they could do more.”

Principal Aaron Bronson did not return calls for comment on the situation Wednesday and Kushner did not comment on how the school dealt with the situation.

McGowan, meanwhile, said the department’s investigation lead him to believe there is not a “high risk” of the situation progressing at the school.

“Unfortunately, in this day and age you can never say never,” he said. “All of this needs to be looked at.”

McGowan credited the students who reported the situation to school officials, saying if the threat was more serious, the students could have saved the school from a bad situation. He hopes other students in similar situations would do the same.

“It’s important to remember that this kind of thing can happen even in small towns, as seen all across the country,” he said.

McGowan said the department’s investigation into the incident should be completed by the end of this week and that more information on the type of charges the students will face will become available.

© 2012 the Foster’s Daily Democrat (Dover, N.H.)

Distributed by MCT Information Services

http://bangordailynews.com/2012/04/05/news/milton-nh-students-said-to-mouth-off-may-now-face-charges/ printed on October 1, 2014