CORYDON, IN (WAVE) – Five people were taken into custody after a credible threat concerning a southern Indiana school was made on social media.
The threat against Corydon Central High School was made on Tuesday via Snapchat, according to authorities.
Concerned students reported the threats which resulted in the arrests of four male juveniles and one adult male, according to Harrison County prosecutor Otto Schalk.
The threat came as a shock to many people in the community, including those that live nearby the school like Melissa Burns.
"You don't think that kids would do this," Burns said.
Burns lives just a few minutes down the road from Corydon Central. She said it's terrifying to think students there were talking about bringing guns and violence so close to home.
"It's scary, it's really scary," she said. "In all honesty, I don't think I would have sent my kids today if they were still in school."
Harrison County Sheriff Rod Seelye said the plan that students were discussing through Snapchat was determined to be a credible threat to the school.
"Anytime you post something on social media or communicate something verbally that you plan on shooting or blowing people up, we consider that a very credible threat and we take it very seriously," Sheriff Seelye said.
Schalk said the suspects will be charged with conspiracy to commit aggravated battery for the Snapchat conversation. He added that even when the Snapchat conversation erases off your phone, it does not mean it is gone. Digital records are kept and thanks to students reporting the conversation, law enforcement was able to do a forensic download of the phone quickly and identify the threat.
"Our Sheriff's Department can forensic download phones on the spot," Schalk said. "Within an hour yesterday, we had detectives forensic downloading cell phones."
The Harrison County Sheriff said multiple firearms were seized from the homes of the suspects.
South Harrison Schools superintendent Mark Eastridge said 20 percent of Corydon Central students were absent from class Wednesday, up from the 8 to 10 percent typically absent this time of the year.
Eastridge said now more than ever, it is important for the community to come together to discuss these threats and how to overcome them. He's inviting the community to participate in a previously planned forum to discuss threats and gun violence in the schools at its high school on March 2.
Schalk stressed any students thinking of copying what these Corydon Central students were doing should know they'll be held accountable.
"To any student that thinks this is a joke, rest assured, should we learn about it, you will meet the fate of the five students yesterday," Schalk said. "You will be pulled out of your bed in the middle of the night, your world is going to get turned upside down and you're going to go to jail."
The penalties for the juvenile and adult students will differ greatly. The juvenile students are expected to be arraigned on Thursday and Schalk said they could face anything from counseling to home incarceration or probation. Schalk added that under Indiana law, jail time is often a last resort instead of an immediate option in these cases.
The adult male student was arraigned Wednesday. Schalk said he could face three to 16 years in prison for conspiracy to commit aggravated battery. He's currently being held on a $25,000 cash bond. Schalk said he will identify the adult male student once the charges are formally filed late Wednesday or Thursday.