The Herald Bulletin

Evening Update

Cops, courts and fires

April 9, 2014

Juvenile arrested in connection with school threat

Police on hand to ensure safety after social media message


A 13-year-old Pendleton Heights Middle School student has been arrested in connection with a social media message threatening to kill students at the school, Madison County Sheriff Ron Richardson said on Wednesday.

"The student admitted to establishing an Instagram account on April 8," Richardson said. "The student said he made the account and post as a game and had no intention of ever causing harm to anybody."

Richardson said the youth faces charges of misdemeanor intimidation, which will be handled through the juvenile court system. The seventh-grader was released to the custody of his parents.

Authorities first learned about the message that referred to "PHMS" Tuesday night when someone reported it to the Madison County Sheriff's Department, Richardson said. The Instagram account was named THE_PHMS_KILLER.

Joe Buck, superintendent of South Madison Community Schools, said he also learned of the potential threat Tuesday night and contacted Pendleton police to beef up security at the school. He also alerted parents to the threat through a special message Wednesday morning.

When school opened there were 10 officers on campus including sheriff deputies, Indiana State Police and Pendleton police to ensure safety, Buck said.

Although it wasn't yet clear at that point that the middle school was threatened because there are so many schools around the country with those initials, Buck said, "we're taking it that it was directed to us."

Through the day, several schools with those initials, Including ones in Baltimore and Morgan County were contacted about the possible threat, authorities said.

"Through the diligent efforts of school officials and Madison County law enforcement, the individual who posted the Instagram message has been identified," Buck said in a statement.

"The safety of students will continue to be a top priority of South Madison Community School Corporation. If at any time you believe the safety of our students is in jeopardy, please contact the school immediately; and if school is not in session, please contact the local law enforcement agency," he continued.

Like Stu Hirsch on Facebook and follow him @stuhirsch on Twitter, or call 640-4861.

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