MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – A student was taken into custody Wednesday after two prank calls were made to police reporting a shooting at New Prague Middle School.
Authorities said during a press conference they received a call around 7:55 a.m. regarding a school shooting in room 105 at the middle school. Police from 12 different towns and agencies responded, including local departments, the State Patrol and ambulance crews.
The 911 call said there was a person “with an AK-47,” and that two people had been injured.
The building was placed under a “code red” lockdown while police responded to the scene.
“When the police came in, they were holding a gun and somebody said, ‘don’t worry, it’s just the cops,’” one student said. “It freaked us all out.”
After an investigation and search of the building, police determined that no shooting occurred. All students were deemed safe and no threat was determined. Police also searched the neighboring Central Education building but found nothing.
“It’s just frustrating that we have to be so on-edge about our schools and our children now,” said Todd, a parent.
A 12-year-old male student was taken into custody, and according to police, was the only student involved. They are not looking for any other suspects. Police say the student prank called authorities twice.
“The investigation leads us to believe that student was the only student involved,” said New Prague Police Chief Mark Vosejpka. “The investigation is still active but again, we have every reason to believe through the investigation that this student was making a prank, a hoax.”
The police chief said the student called in the prank using a deactivated cell phone, which was only capable of making 911 calls. At this time, they do not know what the student’s motivation was for the prank calls.
Marsh Halberg, an attorney representing the student involved, said this is a “very responsible family” and that they “take this seriously.”
He said they understand the stress and “terror” this caused other families.
The family said the boy has some “life issues” but has not been in any legal trouble before this incident.
Halberg also said it’s hard for a 12-year-old to understand the full impact of what has happened. He said they had very productive conversations with the school and law enforcement.
The boy is still being held in a juvenile detention center in Scott County. His first hearing will be Thursday or Friday.
Students in the district were released around 11 a.m. and sent home for the day. Superintendent of New Prague Schools, Larry Kauzlarich, said the decision was made to send all students home, due to the stress and anxiety of the situation.
Kauzlarich said bus drivers were instructed to make sure students had someone at home when they were dropped off — and if no one was present, those students should be brought back to school.
He said the elementary school wasn’t in session when the incident occurred but the decision was made to turn the school buses around and return students to their homes.
Kauzlarich said counselors will be available for students and parents, if needed.
The school canceled classes for the rest of the day but students are expected to return Thursday.