Millsboro teen arrested following alleged gun threat at Sussex Tech
After a fight in the hallway of Sussex Technical High School, a Millsboro student allegedly made veiled threats that resulted in a felony arrest.
Editor's Note: Coastal Point editorial policy is to not identify minors who have been arrested before they have been convicted.
According to police, the 15-year-old student had allegedly been involved in an altercation at the Georgetown school on Friday, Sept. 6, “during which he became extremely disorderly, causing staff to intervene. During this intervention, [he] made remarks of a concerning nature. Further investigation determined that these implicit slang remarks made by [him] translated to him intending to return to the school with a gun.”
“He made … a slang statement. … They sort of knew it was veiled as a threat,” said Delaware State Police Spokesperson M.Cpl. Michael Austin. After further investigation and interviews, he said, police determined that “Yes, it was implied that he would be returning to school with a gun.”
That day, Sussex Tech administration contacted the Delaware State Police about those alleged concerning statements.
On Saturday, Sept. 7, detectives from the Troop 4 Youth Aid Division responded to the teen’s home in Millsboro, “where he was taken in to custody without incident and then transported back to Troop 4, where he was charged with one count of felony terroristic threatening,” police announced. He was arraigned in Justice of the Peace Court #3 and then committed to a youth facility on $5,000 cash bail.
Sussex Tech is a vocational-technical high school focusing on career education.
“We are grateful to the Delaware State Police for their prompt assistance and support, and thankful for our staff members who handled this issue promptly and effectively,” said a public statement from the Sussex Technical School District administration that was released Saturday night just after the DSP announcement of the arrest.
According to Delaware Code, a person is guilty of terroristic threatening when making false statements (or any statements) that he or she knows is likely to cause serious inconvenience, or when the statements are made with “reckless disregard of the risk” of causing terror or serious inconvenience.
Delaware also ups the felony code for such threats made in nursing homes, daycares and schools because “you disrupt the educational process,” said Austin.
For adults, such felonies can carry jail time and fines. At 15, the suspect in this case would be processed in Family Court, which decides the appropriate route for justice, whether it’s rehabilitation, probation, trial or something in between.
Meanwhile, Sussex Tech uses suspension as a punishment for fighting, while terroristic threatening can result in anything from suspension to a possible expulsion (up to 180 days, or one year).
“Under federal privacy laws, we cannot discuss specific student disciplinary proceedings or outcomes. These protections are in place for the privacy of all our students,” Tech spokesperson Dan Shortridge told the Coastal Point.
“We take all potential threats to the safety of our students and staff very seriously,” Shortridge said on Saturday. “Our staff responded to this incident, and assisted and cooperated with the Delaware State Police during their thorough and diligent investigation. We are pleased to reassure our families that this incident has been handled.”
Sussex Tech also reached out to parents on Sunday morning. Shortridge repeatedly emphasized Sussex Tech’s commitment to school safety.
“Our staff works hand-in-hand with law enforcement authorities and is constantly on patrol whenever students are present monitoring the campus,” Shortridge told the Coastal Point.
“Our school safety officers are present at all school functions for the protection of students and staff, our entire staff receives emergency response training, and we hold regular drills and tests of our emergency procedures to prepare for any eventuality,” he stated.
Tech students and staff have access to counseling services, include the full-time school psychologist, wellness center counselor and other trained staff. If needed, additional resources can be brought in, too.
By Laura Walter