Lower bond denied for teen in Melvindale school threat

Oralandar Brand-Williams
The Detroit News

A Wayne County Juvenile Court referee denied a request Monday to lower the bond for a 15-year-old Melvindale High School student charged with making online threats against the school.

The teen, who is not being named because he is a juvenile, was charged last month with communicating on Snapchat that he was going to shoot up the school, the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office.

Defense attorney Joel Jonas asked that the teen be released to his mother on a personal bond but court referee Daniel McGuire denied Jonas’ request and kept the bond at $20,000, 10 percent.

Jonas said Monday the teen had no prior delinquency record and that there “was no claim of intent to actually proceed” to harm anyone and that no one was hurt.

The teen has been expelled from Melvindale High.

But McGuire said that because of the seriousness of the charges and recent school shootings, including one last month in Parkland, Florida, that killed 17 people, he would be “remiss as a jurist” to lower the teen’s bond.

“Given the past year and a half in this country, I would be remiss as a jurist,” he said. “These (cases) have to be taken extremely seriously.”

The teen sat before him in a Wayne County Juvenile Detention Facility jail-type uniform with his hands handcuffed behind his back. The young suspect’s mother sat just a few feet away from the teen at the same table in the small courtroom at the Lincoln Hall of Justice near I-75 and Warren in Detroit.

McGuire added “the person in Florida ... had all but warned people and no one took him seriously.”

Assistant Wayne County Prosecutor Jeffrey Ahee told McGuire that the former Melvindale student recently had a “self-harming” incident and said he is concerned the teen would be a threat to the safety of himself and others if released.

When the charges were announced Feb. 22, Melvindale Police Lt. Dan Jones said the school became aware of the threat from another student, who saw the suspect’s threatening social media post, which included a photo of a person holding a gun. The student made the school district aware and police were called in to investigate.

“(The suspect) basically responded that he was going to conduct an act of violence, indicating the possibility he was going to use a firearm to shoot up the school,” Jones said.

Jonas, the teen’s attorney, asked for an adjournment of Monday’s pretrial hearing to review records and other information. McGuire granted his request and rescheduled the proceedings for 9 a.m. March 20.

The teen’s mother and other relatives declined to comment as they left court Monday.

The Melvindale incident is among a series of threats made against Michigan schools in the wake of the Feb. 14 shooting in Florida.

On Monday, Ypsilanti Community Middle School was evacuated due to a bomb threat, district officials said.

“The Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Department is taking over the matter and giving us proper instructions and taking proper precautions with the students and staff at YCMS,” officials said in a statement on the district’s website.


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