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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Investigation Update Regarding Threats to Telluride High School
--- Student in Custody Released to Parents ---
FROM: Telluride Marshal’s Department, Telluride, CO
CONTACT: Susan Lilly, Public Information Officer 970-729-2028
November 28, 2017 -- (Telluride, CO) – Law enforcement has positively identified one student who authored the “Snapchat” threat to set off explosives at the Telluride High School (THS) on Monday, November 27th.
A copy of the explosives threat comment on Snapchat that was made last Thursday evening has been “captured” by law enforcement.
Further conversation believed to be authored by the same student on the same social media thread made references to a “Columbine-style” shooting. A Search Warrant will be sought to obtain a record of that content to have it analyzed.
After extensive interviews with students who viewed at least part the Snapchat conversations, investigators believe that one student initiated and authored the threatening statements. He was placed into “protective custody” Sunday evening and released to the custody of his parents Monday night.
Superintendent Gass has suspended the student from school, and disciplinary action going forward will be made with thoughtful consideration of multiple factors and in accordance with Colorado State statutes.
School officials and law enforcement plan to work with the student’s parents to develop a safety plan for the student.
No other students or individuals are in custody and no arrests have been made.
Chief James Kolar said nothing in the interviews or any other part of the investigation indicates any present or ongoing threat to public safety. “We are confident we have interviewed the individuals who were involved in the conversations and the single author of the threats. This is an ongoing investigation, but we are satisfied that there is no imminent threat to the school, students or community.”
Telluride public schools re-opened Tuesday with law enforcement presence that will likely continue through this week. Meetings with faculty and parents were held Monday night and Tuesday morning with briefings and “Q & A” with Superintendent Mike Gass and Chief Kolar.
Sunday at around 3 o’clock a concerned student alerted a THS staff member of a possible shooting at the school to take place Monday. The staffer alerted the THS Principal who immediately notified law enforcement.
At approximately 5 o’clock Sunday, a high school student was contacted, interviewed and placed into “protective custody;” i.e. removed from the community but because he is a minor, not housed in an adult jail per Colorado statutes.
The initial report indicated a shooting threat expressed on Snapchat and later, a separate explosives threat. Subsequent information has led investigators to believe that one student initiated the explosives threat and then authored comments in the same thread about a “Columbine-style” shooting.
After consultation with law enforcement, School Superintendent Mike Gass decided to close school Monday to allow for a more thorough investigation and extensive search of the high school campus.
The Telluride Marshal’s Department is leading the investigation with assistance from the San Miguel Sheriff’s Office, Mountain Village Police Department, Telluride Fire Protection District (Fire, HAZMAT, and EMS), the Grand Junction Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the Telluride School District.
The tactical portion of the operation was completed Monday afternoon that included a full sweep of the exterior and interior of the Telluride public schools. No guns, explosives or other evidence of an attack were found.
A “threat assessment” was also completed which included analysis of verbal and written statements, students’ abilities and knowledge to prepare explosive devices, and voluntary searches of students’ homes. An initial forensic analysis of data collected from cellphones revealed no evidence of a conspiracy or active steps taken to initiate a violent attack against the school or students.
Two firearms (one rifle and one locked up handgun) were found at the one student’s Telluride residences. No further evidence was found to indicate a plan, materials or ability to carry out a shooting or explosives threat.
When the investigation is completed will be presented to the District Attorney’s office to determine what if any charges will be filed.
Superintendent Gass said this is an excellent example of kids doing the right thing by notifying adults of suspicious activity.
Chief Marshal James Kolar said Monday, “We take these threats seriously and our investigation will be efficient and thorough.”
Any students or parents with tips related to this incident should contact the Telluride Marshal’s Office at 970-728-3818.