Overland Park Police officers arrested a 13-year-old girl in Kansas and charged her with the felony for threatening after she pointed a finger gun at her classmates.
On Sept. 18, a Westridge Middle School student made the infamous gesture during a discussion in class. A fellow student asked her who she would kill if she were allowed to pick five classmates to kill.
The student then allegedly pointed out four students by pointing her finger at each of them as if she were to shoot them and then pointed her finger “gun” at herself.
One of her classmates who felt threatened reported her to the school’s administrators using the school’s anti-bullying app.
Shortly afterward, the Police Department’s resource officer was alerted who interrogated the girl, led her off in handcuffs, and charged her with the felony for threatening.
She is slated for a Tuesday hearing in the Juvenile Division of the District Court of Johnson County, the Kansas City Star reported.
“If someone makes a direct threat to another person to do harm to another person, that is considered criminal threat, and that would be a felony,” Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe told WDAF.
“I think law enforcement and schools understand that we need to address bad behavior,” Howe added. “Not be heavy-handed but at the same time, address that bad behavior and prevent it from getting worse.”
The girl’s grandfather, Jon Cavanaugh, with whom she stays in California, said: “I think that this is something that probably could have been handled in the principal’s office and got completely out of hand,” the Star reported. “She was just mouthing off,” he added.
“Too often, there are reports of violence in schools and inevitably questions about what could or should have been done to prevent the tragedy. Threats in schools are taken very seriously and treated appropriately,” police said in a statement to the Washington Post reiterating their stance on the matter.
“In most instances, an individual with that kind of charge would be eligible for some kind of diversion plan,” Howe said, in an attempt to downplay the severity of the punishment, according to WDAF. “It would be extremely difficult, almost impossible, under the current juvenile justice system to actually send them to the correctional facility for that type of behavior because it is such a low-level offense, it would not meet the criteria needed.”
Just a week earlier, two 13-year-old boys were caught with real guns in their backpacks at a school only six miles away in Johnson County, Kansas City Star reported. The two were, however, charged with the misdemeanor of possession of a firearm.
“It seems a little bit of an anomaly that you would think that having the actual gun that would be more serious charge, but in fact, it’s the actual threat,” Howe explained. “And it’s something that maybe we need to look at with the legislature and reconcile that.”