The Pima County Attorney's Office has filed charges against a boy accused of making online threats against Sahuarita Middle School on Sept. 30.
Deputy Pima County Attorney Dale Cardy said the boy is facing one count of Interference with an Educational Institution, a felony, and one count of Threats and Intimidation, a misdemeanor. He is scheduled to be in court Dec. 18.
The boy is one of two accused of posting online threats against Sahuarita Unified School District schools within hours of each other.
Authorities believe a former SUSD student now living in Puerto Rico posted cartoon-style images with threats about shooting up Anza Trail School, Walden Grove High School and Sahuarita High School on Instagram and other social media sites Sept. 29.
The following afternoon, a photo of firearms was posted on Instagram and a statement was made about shooting hundreds of students at Sahuarita Middle School. The same photo was published in August in the Orange County Register with a story about police in Fullerton, Calif., recovering firearms and ammunition from a gang member.
An arrest was made within minutes of the SMS threat and it is that boy who is now facing charges.
Because police had deemed the first threat wasn't credible, SUSD opted to keep all schools open, albeit with additional SPD officers stationed at the three schools threatened. They closed all schools Oct. 1 following the second threat.
Sahuarita police have declined to release the names of either suspect.
At the time of the incidents, SUSD Superintendent Manny Valenzuela said those responsible for the threats would "absolutely" face disciplinary action if they were students in the district. However, the school district has a policy of not commenting on what, if any, disciplinary measures are taken in specific cases.
As far as criminal cases, Cardy said what happens to juvenile defendants depends on several factors, including the facts of the case, the quality of the evidence and the child’s past criminal history.
If weapons were not involved, many first- and second-time offenders are allowed to go through a Pima County Attorney's Office diversion program, which avoids prosecution and detention, Cardy said.
Children as young as 8 can be prosecuted for committing crimes, but in Pima County the vast majority of those arrested are teenagers, Cardy said.