WATERLOO, Iowa (KWWL) – UPDATE: Waterloo Schools sent out the following message on Wednesday evening, following threats made against two schools which canceled classes on Tuesday:
“This is the Waterloo Schools calling to update you about the social media threat that led us to cancel school today at our high schools. After collaborating with law enforcement officials throughout last night and today, the Waterloo Police Department and the district have determined that school can resume as scheduled. As a precautionary measure, additional police officers will be at our high schools. Thank you for your patience and understanding as we worked with police to resolve this situation! We all agree student and staff safety is our top priority. ” – Tara Thomas, Waterloo Schools, Director of School & Community Relations
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Waterloo Police said a 15-year-old boy has been arrested in connection to threats made to two Waterloo schools.
Police said the threat came over social media and students took action.
“When they see things, they’re like ‘hey this is beyond what I should be seeing.’ Fortunately, they involved their parents and their parents contacted law enforcement and we got notified,” said Major Joe Leibold with the Waterloo Police Department.
A district on edge Wednesday after a post on social media raising red flags for Waterloo Community School District administration.
Social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat bring the ability to contact millions with the click of a mouse or tap of a screen.
Major Leibold said the15-year-old boy sent a message on Snapchat that contained threats to both Expo Alternative Learning Center and Waterloo West High School.
Even though the arrest has been made, the online nature of the threat complicates things for authorities.
“Social media is a whole different animal for us,” said Major Leibold, “You’re not dealing with going to the neighborhood store and looking something up. You’ve got to contact agencies that are sometimes outside the country and get information and work-arounds.”
As of Wednesday, police were still working to determine whether the boy acted alone of if there are others involved.
Tara Thomas with Waterloo Schools said they never take threats lightly.
“The turnaround, because of technology, is so quick that young poeple have to understand anything you post online will be taken seriously and will be acted upon immediately,” she said.
Even though Waterloo East High was not mentioned, district officials chose to call of classes there too out of caution. However, classes continues as normal at other district buildings.
Major Leibold said there will be an increased police presence at all district buildings in the coming days to ensure the safety of students and staff.
The teen is facing a felony charge of making threats of terrorism and is being held in the juvenile detention center. A call to the Black Hawk County Attorney’s office on when the boy will appear in court has not been returned.