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Law enforcement call for community vigilance as trend of school threats continues

Posted at 5:31 PM, Nov 15, 2022

FERNDALE, Mich. (WXYZ) — It has been a stressful week for students at Ferndale Middle and High School and their parents. Ferndale Police responded to threats and arrested students two days in a row.

On Monday Ferndale Police arrested a 16-year-old Ferndale High Student. She allegedly threatened to shoot classmates on social media. It led to the precautionary closing of Ferndale Middle and High School.

Then Tuesday morning another threat. Ferndale Police eventually arrested a 16-year-old Ferndale High School student. He allegedly left a threatening note in a bathroom.

Students say as it was being investigated, a message came over the PA system telling them to go on lockdown.

“So we all turned off the lights and went in another room. We were all freaking out because we didn’t know how serious it was,” said Makayla Johnson.

Makayla and her mom Lakeshia Johnson felt relief when the school released students early just before noon.

“She is like, ‘I was scared.’ How can we keep it together for them when we are falling apart too? I don’t know what is the solution. All I can do is pray for my children,” said Lakeshia Johnson.

Student Griffin Pawluk ran to greet his mom as school let out and took time to speak out, condemning threats.

“They are messing their entire lives up,” said Griffin.

“This isn’t the way to go about things. This isn’t the way to have your conflicts resolved. This isn’t the way to get a day off of school,” said Amber Pawluk, his mom.

“It is daily. I would say at the sheriff’s office we get one to five a day,” said Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard of threats his office is receiving.

His numbers don’t include threats investigated by local police departments, like Ferndale. Sheriff Bouchard says his agency is concerned as we approach the anniversary of the tragedy at Oxford High that we may see a spike in threats. He is calling on all people to be vigilant and report concerns to protect children.

‘I would rather check 1000 nothings, than miss one real deal,” said Sheriff Bouchard.

“In advance of significant anniversaries, especially inside the U.S. we would really raise the security levels,” said Javed Ali, an Associate Professor of Practice at the University of Michigan Ford School of Public Policy.

Ali held senior roles at the National Counterterrorism Center and National Security Council before coming to the University of Michigan. He says there are security ideals we can take from counterterrorism and apply to schools.

“We have to adopt the, ‘See something, Say something’ mantra or model that has become the post-nine-eleven catchphrase,” Ali suggests as an example.

He says we should also make it widely known in Michigan if you are convicted of making terroristic threats it is a twenty-year felony and a twenty-thousand dollar fine .

Makayla and her mom have thoughts for the students making threats. They hope they get help.

“I would say that to whoever made this threat, that we are always here for you. There is always someone going through something that you might go through,” said Makayla.

“I don’t know if they are doing it for attention. But they need to understand the severity of it as well,” said Lakeshia.

Both of the students arrested for the separate threats on Monday and Tuesday were being held in juvenile detention Tuesday awaiting the prosecutor’s decision on charges.