Felony Charges for 12-Year-Old Accused of New Prague 'Hoax'

Updated: 03/22/2013 10:35 AM KSTP.com By: Cassie Hart

The boy accused of a prank 911 call made about an active shooter at New Prague Middle School has been charged with felony terroristic threats and will remain in detention for now.

At a hearing in Scott County juvenile court, a judge asked for more background about the boy before deciding whether he can be returned to his parents. The boy's attorney Marsh Halberg, says they'll be back in court Monday.

Wednesday's threat set off a huge scare in New Prague, putting all schools in the district under lockdown. The Mayo Clinic also went into lockdown to prepare for any injuries.

Authorities say the 12-year-old-boy allegedly called 911 around 7:55 a.m. saying there was a shooting at New Prague Middle School. The caller claimed there were two victims.

Police say they received two calls from the same deactivated phone regarding the New Prague threat.

The calls prompted a "Code Red" lockdown for all schools within the New Prague Area School District.

"Code Red" is the highest level security alert for the district. By 9 a.m. investigators on the scene were confident the call was a hoax.

According to New Prague Police, the boy was arrested and was taken into custody regarding the threat. He was the only suspect in the threat.

Scott County Sheriff Kevin Studnicka says students and staff at the middle school, high school and Central Education Campus buildings in New Prague were all safe.

Classes were canceled district-wide for the rest of the day. Students were released into the arms of some very relieved parents.

Buses took the remaining students home. If parents were not home the buses took the students back to campus. The students stayed in the gymnasium for the remainder of the day.

According to the superintendent, the decision to dismiss school was to relieve anxiety for parents and students.

The 12-year-old has been officially charged with felony terroristic threats and faces a lesser charge for the 911 call. An attorney representing the boy sent out a statement, "On behalf of my client's parents they wish for other parents to know that no firearm was actually involved and that it is safe for students to return to school."

Bruce Rivers, a criminal defense attorney not involved in the case, said some previous prank emergency callers have been required to pay restitution for the cost of the massive emergency responses they prompted.

New Prague Middle School students were also evacuated Thursday because of a bomb threat. Students were sent to the ice arena for about one hour after a bomb threat was emailed to the middle school at 8 a.m. The message claimed a bomb would detonate within a half-an-hour at the middle school.

Police searched the school and no bomb was found.

Superintendent Larry Kauslarich said he believes this was a "copycat" and that the threat came from outside the district.

This isn't the first time the New Prague School District has dealt with serious threats.

The high school was evacuated on Valentine's Day. The district told KSTP in the February incident, a note was found in the bathroom saying there was a bomb in the building. The student responsible for the threat was expelled.

New Prague is about 45 miles southwest of Minneapolis. The middle and high schools have a combined enrollment of 2,067.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.