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Threats to harm students taken seriously

It's hard for anyone to understand why anyone would want to go on a shooting rampage and kill innocent people, but with today's media coverage of such events, it seems like it is happening more often. Schools are on high alert and take every threat seriously not only for the safety of their student populations, but to protect themselves from potential wrongful death lawsuits.

Recently a 19-year-old boy was making threats to go on a shooting rampage at the University of Maryland. Campus police were able to trace the messages back to the boy's computer and police arrested him. A subsequent search of his dorm room and his parents' home found no guns, but officials feel that they need to take every threat seriously and this incident illustrates that.

Virginia Tech was in the news because of a similar incident in 2007. The parents brought a suit against the school because they felt that the school did not take threats seriously from a student who shot two students in the morning of April 16, 2007 and then went on to kill 30 students and faculty. Police felt that after the initial killings in the morning, that the shootings were an isolated domestic incident and didn't warn anyone at the school. In this instance, they were wrong and 30 lives were lost.

While these cases don't happen every day, investigators involved with these types of threats have found one common thread - at least one person knew of the planned attack before it occurred and did not report it.

The 19-year-old who made the threats was charged with a misdemeanor and is banned from the University of Maryland campus. He is also undergoing a psychiatric evaluation. While no one was injured because of his threats, police feel that it was a success to get this man the help he needs, while it protected the college community.

Source: Fredericksburg.com, "No shock, no horror," Mar. 15, 2012

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