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Pranks are no joke, mother says
Her middle school son was arrested for criminal threat
 washington school
Barton County Special Services was the last educational related entity to utilize Shady Grove School. This year, BCSS has relocated to Washington Early Childhood Center in Great Bend. - photo by DALE HOGG Great Bend Tribune

On the afternoon of Wednesday, May 22, a middle school boy from Great Bend was arrested as he left the Washington Early Education Center after the Great Bend Police Department responded to a report of criminal threats at the building.

Now, the boy’s mother said, she wants this to be a cautionary tale about unwise actions and their consequences. And, she said she has no problems with how school officials and the police handled the situation.

The names of the woman and her children are being withheld to protect their privacy.

The incident was a “prank gone wrong,” the mother said. “A bunch of kids were talking on Snapchat about pulling pranks like this and they need to know there are dire consequences.”

The boy may get suspended for a whole year and face up to five years in prison and get a fine of $2,500, she said. Her son was booked into the Barton County Detention Center on a charge of criminal threat then released to the Bob Johnson Youth Shelter, Hutchinson. She has now spent considerable time in court proceedings.

“It’s not a joke and kids need to know,” she said. “My son learned the hard way.”

The boy is an eighth grader and the incident took place on his last day of school.

She explained what happened like this: “He put his jacket hood over his head and said ‘I’m going into school shooter mode.’ The school took it as a terroristic threat and he was booked on criminal threat charges. When he told the teachers and cops that it was supposed to be a joke as a final day school prank, they informed him that it is not funny at all in light of the recent school shootings.”

Now, she said, her son is home but under house arrest until his next court date at the end of June. “His whole summer is down the tubes because he was playing around with his friend and making inappropriate comments.

“He wasn’t actually threatening the school; he was repeating something a friend had done at the skate park,” the mother said. “The hoodie over the head was what he was talking about because so many shooters wear hoodies.”

Being that her son is a child with special needs and goes to the Early Ed Center, he didn’t think there would be consequences for saying what he said, she said. “The teacher that reported it to the police even said he knew he wasn’t making a threat but he was mandated to report any mentions of school shooting whether it’s a joke or not. I totally understand why.”

She has this advice for others: “it’s serious and not something to joke about and parents need to make their kids aware of that before they too get in trouble.”