Police arrest 16-year-old student in Bay City Central threat case
BAY CITY, Mich. (WNEM) - A 16-year-old student has been arrested after Bay City Central High School received two threatening notes - one on Friday, March 24, and one on Monday, March 27.
“Well, it’s a relief,” said Bay City Public Schools Superintendent Stephen Bigelow in response to the arrest.
The first threat against Bay City Central High School was made on Friday morning after a hand-written note was found on one of the school doors, threatening to shoot up the school. Then Monday morning, a second hand-written note with a threat was also discovered on a door at the school.
The school was closed on both days due to the threats.
On Friday and Monday, officers from the Bay City Department of Public Safety searched the school and surrounding area but found nothing in addition to the note.
The note was handwritten and appeared to have the same handwriting as the previous note, Bigelow said.
Investigators recovered digital and physical evidence from both incidents which led them to the 16-year-old Bay City Central High School student.
“At the end of the day, it’s really the students and the parents who are worried as they have all sorts of questions, wondering what is actually going on. So, to be able to provide some resolution and closure was really, really important for me. I’m happy to get that information out,” Bigelow said.
Law enforcement officials said the student could face anywhere from a one-year misdemeanor to a 20-year felony, depending on what the Bay County Prosecutor decides after reviewing the case. As far as school discipline goes, Bigelow said it’s pretty cut and dry.
“When we deal with any kind of threat on the school level, it’s a recommendation to expel. The recommendation is just that, there’s a whole process that a student and a student’s family goes through as that expulsion process takes place,” Bigelow said. “But that is the recommendation that they get from the school itself.”
The student, who is believed to have been involved in both incidents, was arrested about 1 p.m. on Monday, March 27. The student was lodged at the Bay County Juvenile Center and the case has been forwarded to the Bay County Prosecutor’s Office for charges.
Bigelow said he hopes this arrest sends a message to everyone that threatening a school isn’t something anyone should do.
“It’s not a game. People need to understand how serious it is, and it really affects an entire community,” he said.
Bigelow said he wants to emphasize the safety and well-being of the students and staff remain their top priority.
The district canceled all school activities, including extracurricular events and after-school programs.
Bigelow said closing the school was the right call but a local security expert said otherwise.
Tom Mynsberge is a critical incident manager who works school districts in Saginaw and Shiawassee Counties.
“They’re investigated, they’re checked out. But we have procedures in place. We haven’t been closing our schools down. We’ve got procedures in place that the schools can still conduct teaching in a higher state of security,” Mynsberge said.
He said he doesn’t think Bay City Central High School should’ve been closed today and last Friday.
“Every time we shut them down, it kind of sends somebody else out there with the same idea, ‘Well I can shut down schools for a day too.’ And it just becomes kind of like a over and over again proposition for them to interrupt school,” Mynsberge said.
However, Bigelow stands behind his decision.
“We have to. I mean I can’t allow a threat to hurt people in a school go out there and just pretend like it didn’t exist. We do have to take it seriously,” he said.
Bigelow was quick to point out there have been school days held when the district is in what’s called “secure mode.” But he said in this instance, operating with beefed up security wasn’t going to be productive.
“When you have a threat that is as specific as it is, and the concern and worry that it creates within the community itself, it would’ve been a very uneasy day for students and for staff to be at school when our message is we think we’re OK but we’re not a hundred percent sure,” Bigelow said. “That’s not a situation we ever want to put our families into.”
Mynsberge, who doesn’t work with Bay City Public Schools, said he understands the decisions superintendents face in today’s uncertain world are far from easy.
“It is tough to call sometimes,” Mynsberge said. “Sometimes you have to make this on the err of safety, but I still say we can do monitoring, we can still follow these procedures.”
If you have any information about this case, call the Bay City Department of Public Safety at 989-892-8571.
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