MHS student threatens President, investigated by Secret Service - Tucson Local Media: Import

MHS student threatens President, investigated by Secret Service

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Posted: Wednesday, November 17, 2004 12:00 am | Updated: 7:48 am, Thu Mar 24, 2011.

Nov. 10, 2004 - The U.S. Secret Service interviewed a Marana High School student for several hours Nov. 3 after the student said President George W. Bush would be assassinated if re-elected.

The student made the outburst in an English class during a Channel One broadcast, said Marana High School Principal Jan Truitt. Channel One allows students to broadcast news and current events across the campus, she said.

Truitt said the boy was not one of the student newscasters, and he made the statement near the end of the broadcast.

She said the teacher, who she would not name, then wrote a discipline referral and sent it to the office. The office notified School Resource Officer Jake Shumate, a Marana police officer, upon receiving the referral.

Shumate referred all comment to MPD Public Information Officer, Sgt. Tim Brunenkant.

"Obviously, the nature of the threat is serious," Brunenkant said of the boy's comments. When Shumate learned of the boy's outburst, he called the Tucson Secret Service field office, which considered the threat serious enough to investigate.

Truitt said the boy's parents were notified, and they came to Marana High School during the investigation. Truitt said the Secret Service interviewed the student for several hours at the school then continued the investigation at the boy's home. She said the investigation was outside the school's control.

Brunenkant said he was told by Shumate the Secret Service searched the boy's home for weapons, but none were found.

Brunenkant said the boy's statement was general and not likely to be carried out, however, Shumate should not have ignored it.

"If there's a threat and someone reports it, he (Shumate) has to take some kind of action," Brunenkant said.

Chuck Wolford, the Secret Service agent in charge of New Mexico and Arizona, said he could not comment specifically on the investigation of the Marana student.

He added that threats sometimes come from universities and colleges, but investigations involving students in grades K through 12 are uncommon.

"It's very rare that something like that is going to come out of a school," Wolford said. However, he said regardless of a person's age the Secret Service takes all threats seriously.

The Secret Service would go through all the proper channels and include the student's parents, principals and counselors, Wolford said.

"Thank God, 99.9 percent of the time is just somebody trying to draw attention to themselves," he said. But, it's necessary to investigate someone who threatens the life of anyone, because such actions are not "normal behavior," he said.

Even if charges are never brought against the student who made the threat, that student may have other problems that may need to be addressed by his or her parents, teachers or school counselor, Wolford said.

Neither Truitt, Brunenkant nor the Secret Service would identify the student.

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