Orono student arrested in connection with making shooting threat that locked down schools

Cars lined up outside Orono Intermediate Elementary School
Cars lined up Wednesday outside Orono Intermediate School with police officers directing traffic following a lockdown of Orono schools after a gun threat.
Matt Sepic | MPR News

Updated 5:30 p.m. | Posted 12:14 p.m.

Orono police have arrested a juvenile in connection with a "threat of gun violence" that led to a lockdown Wednesday of Orono Schools.

The person arrested is a student at the high school, as is a second "person of interest" in the matter, Orono Police Chief Correy Farniok told reporters.

The threat, posted in the morning on Facebook and Twitter, indicated that a noon shooting would occur at the campus, which includes the high school, middle school, intermediate and elementary schools.

As police investigated the messages, they determined that they were sent from inside the schools complex, which led to students being held inside an hour longer than normal.

Farniok said that the juvenile did not have a gun on him and no weapon has been found.

He described the social media posts as a "credible threat" and acknowledged that the mass killing last week at a Florida high school weighed on the minds of those responding to the threats.

Schools were locked down at 11:15 a.m. Wednesday, shortly after the threats were brought to the attention of authorities.

District leaders emphasized there was no intruder and kids were safe but canceled all after school and evening athletics, activities, classes and meetings.

Ashley Clements, a junior at Orono High School, said students first thought the lockdown order was fake. When they realized it was real, "all of us started worrying and kids started questioning what was going on; there was rumors that some kid had a gun and everybody went crazy."

The district will resume a normal schedule Thursday but will have crisis team members available and every building will have a police presence, said Orono Superintendent Karen Orcutt.

She said she was grateful everyone was safe and that those watching over children "met the challenges with skill and compassion."

Officials said Wednesday's threat was separate from one investigated Tuesday by Orono police involving a message on a social media site that was deemed threatening in nature. The police said they'd spoken to those involved and that it would not be investigated further.

The Orono district serves the western Minneapolis suburbs of Independence, Long Lake, Maple Plain, Medina, Minnetonka Beach and Orono.

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