Student charged in connection to online threat that prompted lockdown in Orono

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

Prosecutors have charged a west Twin Cities metro high school student in connection with an online threat against the Orono school district Wednesday.

Chuck Laszewski, a spokesperson for the Hennepin County Attorney's Office, said because the boy is a juvenile, the specific charges prosecutors have filed against him are not public.

Laszewski said the student is younger than 16, but declined to reveal his exact age. Laszewski said because the boy is so young, County Attorney Mike Freeman is not likely to try to have him certified to be charged as an adult.

Orono Police Chief Correy Farniok said at a news conference Wednesday that school officials reported the Facebook and Twitter threats a few minutes before 11 a.m. The anonymous posts had said a person would shoot up the schools at noon that day.

The district quickly put all five of its schools on lockdown as authorities investigated. They did not recover any weapons, but arrested the boy just after 4 p.m.

In a statement Thursday, Orono police said that they interviewed a second high school student whom they had initially considered a "person of interest" in the case and found he was not associated with the incident.

Orono Public Schools spokesperson Gary Kubat said in an email to MPR News that about 23 percent of the district's 2,820 students were absent Thursday. The largest number of absences was at the high school. Kubat said that's likely related to the lockdown, but he noted that the district has had a high number of flu-related absences recently.

Kubat said counselors were made available to students Thursday and will be on hand Friday as well. He also said police officers were present in the schools, and each building principal made a special announcement to welcome the students back and reassure them that the schools are safe.

Your support matters.

You make MPR News possible. Individual donations are behind the clarity in coverage from our reporters across the state, stories that connect us, and conversations that provide perspectives. Help ensure MPR remains a resource that brings Minnesotans together.