The Casa Grande Police Department on Wednesday responded to Cactus Middle School and McCartney Ranch Elementary School to investigate an online threat.
Cactus Middle School staff reported a social media post being shared on campus of a rifle and handguns with a message threatening the students of both schools, according to police.
Investigating officers discovered the post was created by a sixth-grade student, age 11, at Cactus Middle School. The student made the post to convince their friend's parents to let the friend skip school for the day. Police said the 11-year-old used a stock image from the internet and added a threatening message to it.
Administrative actions will be the responsibility of the Casa Grande Elementary School District. A felony charge of disruption of an educational institution will be forwarded to the Pinal County Attorney’s Office for review.
The officers remained on both campuses to ensure safety during the investigation. During this time, Cactus Middle School staff reported an eighth-grade student, age 13, was found with a fake handgun. Officers went to the school and determined there was no active threat and began to investigate the incident.
Officers discovered the 13-year-old bought the fake handgun the day before from a convenience store. According to police, the student brought it to school to show his friend. The student carried it around in the front pocket of his hoodie and pulled it out in the bathroom to show others. A student in the bathroom reported this to the school immediately.
Administrative actions in this case will also be the responsibility of the Casa Grande Elementary School District. A misdemeanor charge of disruption of an educational institution will be forwarded to the Casa Grande City Attorney’s Office for review.
It is unclear if the underage students were arrested and if they will be charged.
The two incidents came less than a week after charges for a high school student who was found with a firearm at Casa Grande Union High School, along with another case of an eighth-grade student in Mesa who was found to be responsible for creating a threatening social media post shared throughout the Casa Grande school community.
“Once again, our public school officials responded accordingly by quickly reporting these events. We are working closely with Dr. Leckie and Dr. Battle of both the elementary and high school district administrations to ensure the safety of all youth and staff," Casa Grande police Chief Mark McCrory said. "It is imperative that students are aware of the potential consequences of these types of actions. It is equally important that parents of our students are aware of the potential consequences, as they may possibly be held accountable for their children’s actions.”
This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Casa Grande police investigate threats at middle, elementary schools