Harsher penalties needed for those who threaten school shootings, DA says | KOB 4
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Harsher penalties needed for those who threaten school shootings, DA says

Kassi Nelson
February 23, 2018 05:24 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Continuing threats of shootings at New Mexico schools have impacted start times, forced officials to call classes off entirely and even landed several students in handcuffs.

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A 14-year-old girl was in court Friday after police say she was the one who threatened to shoot up Cibola High School. According to the district attorney's office, she was arrested Wednesday and charged with interference with public officials.

The judge put her on house arrest and ordered to cut off her access to social media – a petty misdemeanor that Bernalillo County District Attorney Raul Torrez says doesn't fit the crime.

But as it stands, there's not much else that can be done.

"It's not entirely clear when this specific statute was created, the scope of what form a threat needs to take before it triggers our ability to prosecute that person," Torrez said.

Now, amid a period of heightened tension for educators, parents, students and lawmakers across the country, the district attorney is asking the state to make this caliber of threat a more serious offense.

Torrez says the two state laws they do have to prosecute these types of cases are outdated and don't allow for appropriate punishment for threats made over constantly evolving social media apps.

"I know that the city has enacted an ordinance to try and address this," he said. "The problem for us is that right now the city ordinances don't carry the kind of consequences we would like to see."

Torrez added that a harsher penalty might send a message to teens; a message that says these threats won't be taken lightly. He said while not all offenders have the same background, he wants everyone who threatens a school shooting to be charged with a felony.

"It is so disruptive, so harmful and so traumatic to other children, to parents and the rest of the community to wonder (and) to think about what might happen when I drop my kid off at school," he said.

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Kassi Nelson

Copyright 2018 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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