Student behind school threat in Barnesville released by police

Published: Oct. 13, 2022 at 10:20 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 13, 2022 at 10:36 PM CDT
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BARNESVILLE, Minn. (Valley News Live) - The student who sent a threatening e-mail forcing Barnesville students into lockdown Thursday was taken into custody, then released back to his parents.

The Barnesville superintendent shared the news of an arrest with families via e-mail Thursday evening. The e-mail does not name the student, but it says the arrest was a collaborative effort between law enforcement and the school. The threatening email contained specific details, including the time the acts of violence would occur during the school day.

Superintendent Jon Ellerbusch tells us there is an increased police presence at the school Friday, but there are no additional counselors on hand as “students haven’t expressed concern”. Superintendent Ellerbusch tells us police determined the student had no means to carry out the violence that was threatened to students and staff, so the threat has been resolved in the school’s eyes.

A staff member at the high school, who wants to remain anonymous, tells us they have numerous concerns about the building’s security including locking doors, adding that they hope this experience is an “eye opener” for district leaders. Ellerbusch tells us he has no knowledge of that, but will follow up with the high school principal. The staff member cited other concerns, including Ellerbusch’s absence, as he was off-site during Thursday’s lockdown, and flew out of state Thursday evening.

While this student was identified, catching whoever is behind the rest of Thursday’s threats of violence may be tough. “Swatting” calls have been reported across the country, including North Dakota and Minnesota, the latest in what’s becoming a disturbing trend.

Fargo, West Fargo, Grand Forks, Jamestown and Bismarck Schools all also received fake threats of active shooter situations Thursday. The state superintendent’s office says schools are not required to report these kinds of threats to the superintendent’s office, police or even families. They say each individual school district has their own policy.

While educators say this is a senseless crime, no one was hurt and they are happy about how it was handled. For example, in Jamestown, about 30 officers responded to the school in less than three minutes. There were then two sweeps of the entire building.

The FBI could not report an exact number on how many swatting calls the states received Thursday, since schools are not required to report them and local law enforcement do not always report these kinds of threats to the FBI.