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Police to parents: Talk to your kids about not making threats at school

TACOMA, Wash. -- With school security a top priority, Tacoma police say every single threat is fully investigated. That includes one made last week by a 10-year-old student who threatened to shoot up an elementary school.

Police say the threat had no credibility. But the words he used launched a full investigation.

Dean Simmons says he got a call from the Tacoma School District on Friday, saying a 5th grader at Arlington Elementary became angry in class and made threats against his classmates and the school.

“He said that his father owned a gun and that he was going to go home and get it and shoot up the school,” says Loretta Cool with Tacoma Police.

Investigators say the Tacoma School District reported the threat immediately.

“We confirmed they (the student and parents) don't have access to any handguns,” says Cool.

And after investigating, Tacoma police determined the 10-year-old's threat is not credible.

“The takeaway from this is it doesn't matter what age you are. You need to know how to act and be in school,” says Cool.

Tacoma police say this is an opportunity for parents to have a serious conversation with their kids about how the words they use can have serious consequences.

“If you use words that are threatening, in any fashion, that mention gun violence, knife violence or hurting somebody, the schools are taking it very seriously and they are reporting every incident to the police. The police are evaluating each of those threats and determining whether a crime has been committed or whether to leave it up to school discipline,” says Cool.

Under state law, a student may be expelled immediately by a school district superintendent or designee in emergency situations, if they believe the student poses an immediate or continuing danger to students and staff. But the law says an emergency expulsion must end or be converted to another form of corrective action within 10 days from the date of expulsion.

In this particular situation, the Tacoma School District says it can't reveal any disciplinary measures due to student privacy. But they say the student in question did not attend school Monday and won't for the next few days.

“As a parent, when Monday rolls around and it’s time to take your kid to school, you want to know more about what’s going to happen in the future and will that student be allowed back into school,” says Simmons.

While he is relieved police say this threat is not credible, he'll be having a very upfront talk with his own kids.

“I think I'm going to probably have to have a talk with my 7-year-old. Because they play with Nerf guns and stuff at home, and so, you have to be careful, I guess, in this day and age, what you say at school,” says Simmons.

Tacoma police say this is also a good reminder of their “see something say something” campaign. If you see or hear a school threat of any kind, Tacoma police say report it immediately to 911, and never wait to make that call.