Belmont County Prosecutor Reviewing Bridgeport School Threat; Charges Are Possible

Bridgeport Exempted Village Schools Superintendent Zac Shutler said a situation in which a high school-aged student allegedly threatened gun violence at the school has been “handled.”

The student has not been arrested by law enforcement, but the case will be reviewed by the Belmont County Prosecutor’s Office, Sheriff Dave Lucas said.

Shutler declined to say on Monday whether the student attends school in his district or another. He did say the alleged threat was made late Friday afternoon at the school, which houses students from pre-K through 12th grade, during a conversation between the accused student and another student. School administrators and law enforcement learned of the alleged threat Friday night.

Shutler noted the accused student was not at the school on Monday. He referred additional questions about the student’s possible arrest to the Belmont County Sheriff’s Office. Sheriff Dave Lucas said the student has not been arrested and is not in police custody.

“From the investigation, and all the facts, this will be forwarded to the prosecutor’s office. No actual assault or incidents have taken place, so the whole investigation has been referred to the prosecutor’s office,” Lucas said, noting the prosecutor will determine whether any charges should be filed.

Lucas said he did not know whether the student will be allowed to attend school while the case is pending, referring that question to Shutler.

“The school makes that determination. We do the criminal process. … The prosecutor will look at it,” Lucas said.

Shutler declined to say whether the student would be allowed to return to the school.

“We cannot comment on the disciplinary consequences that have been or might be administered to a specific student per FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) regarding any specific incident (or) accusation,” he said.

Earlier in the day Monday, Shutler said he wanted to be “100 percent clear — we handled the situation proactively.”

“If we thought there was an immediate threat, obviously we would not have school today,” Shutler said Monday morning.

Shutler declined to be specific about details of the threat but he did confirm it was “in regard to someone shooting.” Shutler said he was hesitant to give many details because the matter remains under investigation.

“I want to be as clear as I can be — the allegation was made, the school found out and contacted law enforcement,” Shutler said. “The situation has been handled. We try from that point to have a sense of normalcy while still being vigilant about what students and parents are saying. … It’s good students are able to speak to the administration about what’s going on.”

Shutler said additional law enforcement, including a deputy from the sheriff’s department and officers from the Bridgeport Police Department, were at the school Monday as a precaution and to help give parents more peace of mind.

Shutler acknowledged there still were some parents who did not allow their children to attend school Monday.

He said those absences would be excused. Starting today, however, Shutler said the school would have to go back to its standard absence policy.

“From the school’s perspective the situation was handled. Law enforcement was notified and has already begun the process. … Every person who needs to know (about the alleged threat) has been contacted,” Shutler said.

Several parents of students in the district took to social media over the weekend to express their concerns and to seek advice on whether to send their children to school. Those online conversations continued Monday.

The alleged threat at Bridgeport comes on the heels of a mass shooting that occurred at a Florida school on Feb. 14, killing 17.