Platte County R-3 officials deal with 2 threats of violence posted to social media

A pair of posts on social media forced law enforcement and Platte County R-3 officials to take action on back-to-back days last week.

On Tuesday, Nov. 29, students reported SnapChat posts featuring a 13-year-old boy purportedly threatening gun violence at Platte City Middle School. The following day, a 17-year-old male was taken into custody after being found with a large knife on the campus of Northland Career Center in Platte City.

The Platte County R-3 School District sent out alerts following both incidents. No students were harmed, and “appropriate school actions have been implemented,” according to the district.

The Platte City Police Department determined the SnapChat video to be a credible threat, according to Lt. Al DeValkenaere, because the student had the means to carry out the threat. According to DeValkenaere, a short video showed the 13-year-old with a pistol and text to the effect of, “This is for everyone who teased me.”

A follow-up image showed the student in a long coat with the outline of a gun.

The posts were reported at about 3:30 p.m. after a student viewed the Snaps on a bus. Law enforcement briefly detained the student, and a family member’s gun in the student’s possession was recovered and secured, according to DeValkenaere.

The weapon never made it onto the school campus.

“This student will not be at school while the investigation is completed,” a district alert said in part. “Platte County School District takes school safety very seriously. Parents are encouraged to talk with their children about the seriousness of making such threats to the safety of our schools and students, and that such threats have the potential for consequences.”

The student was not placed into custody because the weapon had been secured. The matter was turned over to the Clay County Juvenile Office for potential charges.

A spokesperson with the Platte County Juvenile Office confirmed that two felony petitions had been filed in the other case after a Northland Career Center student was placed into custody on Wednesday, Nov. 30.

According to the petition, the 17-year-old student committed the Class D felony of making a terroristic threat for knowingly causing a false belief that a condition involving danger to life with a post to Instagram, a social media website for images and videos. The video in question allegedly showed the student holding a handgun with the following statement, “Me waiting to shoot up the school.

The petition indicates the student goes to Park Hill High School. DeValkenaere said a family member indicated the photo was actually from a holiday gathering where the student engaged in target shooting under supervision, and that the boy did not have access to the weapon in question.

When members of the Platte City Police Department questioned the student at Northland Career Center, they found a weapon. A Class D felony for unlawful use of a weapon on school premises was also part of the petition due to the “Tac Force Bigboy Stiletto knife with a 6-inch spring assisted blade” concealed on his person on the premises of Northland Career Center.

According to the Platte County Juvenile Office spokesperson, the suspect was detained in a secured, locked facility until further order of the juvenile court. He appeared for a detention hearing on Monday, Dec. 5, and the judge found cause to keep him in custody until the adjudication hearing, currently set for Wednesday, Dec. 14.

“School safety is the responsibility of the entire school community,” Platte County R-3’s alert on the first incident read. “Please follow the principle of “see something, say something.” If anyone (student, parent, staff member, community member) sees or hears anything of concern, please contact the district office at (816) 858-5420 so that those concerns can be investigated.

“We appreciate your partnership in maintaining a safe and caring environment for our learners.”