Highland Township student in web threat case will get counseling
Pontiac — A 15-year-old Highland Township boy who admitted making an Internet threat to kill fellow students at Milford High School in February was ordered Thursday to spend time still to be determined — likely between six and nine months — confined in Children's Village receiving counseling and mental health treatment.
Another student reported to authorities a threat was made by someone using a computer name "Adolph Hitler." It was tracked to the boy, who admitted his involvement.
The boy, who turned 15 on May 5, told investigators he was depressed over a recent breakup with a girlfriend when he made threats to "kill everyone" at the school and vowed a Columbine-type incident.
The boy is being prosecuted as a juvenile for making a false threat of terrorism, a felony which can carry up to 20 years in prison for an adult.
"I'm going to place you in a Children's Village program," Judge Elizabeth Pezzetti told the youth Thursday, explaining that because of the "serious situation" she planned to follow the recommendations of caseworker Michael Amshay.
Two psychiatrists who evaluated the boy said he showed mental health issues that needed to be addressed, including suicidal thoughts. They boy's defense attorney, Deanna Kelley, argued neither professional described anger nor violence towards others as concerns for any confinement.
"Our psychiatrist found the Children's Village situation is detrimental to him," Kelley said. "We believe he would do better in his home with counseling."
But Pezzetti said she agreed the county facility was the best place for the boy. She set a June 30 date to review what type of program had been arranged for the boy, who, like other residents, will receive his education from the Waterford schools system and possibly additional online classes.
"You do have promise and I want to make sure you have the education you need," the judge told the boy, who excelled at classes at Milford High and had no history of criminal or violent behavior before posting the threats.
Assistant prosecutor Adam Nael told Pezzetti that while some said the threats have been referred to as "out of character" for the boy they were probably more "out of reputation." Nael noted the boy had engaged in disturbing racial threats on the Internet and according to one classmate, had posted earlier this year a comment that read, "What would they think if I brought a gun to school and shot up the cafeteria?"
Nine firearms, all registered to the boy's father, were seized from the home. The boy, while pleading no contest to the charge, said he never intended to hurt anyone.
"I do think I deserved this punishment (confinement since February) but I never intended to scare anyone," the boy told Pezzetti before she made her decision. "I'm sorry I disappointed my family and friends and teachers. I don't want to sacrifice my future anymore. I will never take my future for granted again."
The boy said he planned to be a doctor someday.
Outside Thursday's hearing, Kelley comforted the boy's parents who she described as "disappointed he wouldn't be permitted home." She noted how a 17-year-old Brandon High student, Jacob Young, received only 93 days in jail after pleading no contest to a similar situation in December on an After School app at his school.
"We can't understand how someone who did not act out violently is being held for now, up to a year," Kelley said. "Ironically, if he had actually assaulted someone, he would be back home now."