The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Local News

March 29, 2014

Conneaut student’s Facebook photo puts police, school on alert

CONNEAUT — A menacing photo posted on Facebook by a Conneaut Middle School student caught the attention of city police and school officials early Friday morning.

Police were informed late Thursday night of a photo posted on the popular social media site by a 15-year-old CMS student. The photo depicts the student wearing a ski mask and brandishing a pistol, said Police Chief Charles Burlingham. The student made no threats, the chief emphasized.

School officials were contacted, and the decision was made to intercept the student as he arrived at CMS, Burlingham said. Other students were “isolated” briefly until the student was confronted, he said.

Other students were kept a few additional minutes on school buses until the boy arrived, said Joel Taylor, CMS principal.

“They stayed on the bus a little longer than usual,” he said. “It was done in the best interest for the safety of the students.”

Classes were not impacted and the school conducted business as usual, Taylor said. He emphasized no threats were made.

“It was a precautionary measure because of a photo that was posted,” he said.

The student denied any “harmful intent” regarding the photo, Burlingham said. The boy described himself as an aspiring rap artist, and indicated the photo was meant to give him some credibility or establish an image, he said.

The gun depicted in the photo may have been a air-powered pistol, Burlingham said. The boy, who has already been cited into Juvenile Court hearing on another matter, was sent home.

Ashtabula County Sheriff William Johnson learned about the incident while in town Friday morning and dispatched some deputies to the school for extra security. “We appreciate the assistance,” Burlingham said.

City Manager Tim Eggleston praised the handling of the situation in an email message sent Friday morning. “Again, a fine job by our police personnel and the school administration for taking quick action and sending a message that the community will not tolerate this kind of behavior,” he wrote.

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