HUNTLEY – Five male Huntley High School students were charged with disorderly conduct after they allegedly made threatening comments and social media postings that police say negatively affected attendance at Huntley High School.
Four boys – an Algonquin 15-year-old, a Lake in the Hills 16-year-old, an Algonquin 17-year-old and a Huntley 16-year-old – were charged with Class 4 felonies. A Lake in the Hills 17-year-old boy was charged with a Class C misdemeanor.
Police said high school officials became aware between Feb. 3 and 5 of a small number of isolated comments and social media posts that were threatening in nature. After those comments, Huntley High School saw an increase in absenteeism, specifically on Feb. 8.
Huntley Deputy Police Chief Michael Klunk said the bulk of the comments were made on Facebook or Twitter, although at least one of the juveniles made a verbal comment that led to charges. He said the incidents happened on several different days.
“Some of them jumped on the bandwagon and jumped on other things that were reposted,” Klunk said. “That’s what kind of caught on and caused a disturbance, created the rumors and created additional issues.”
He said at least one of the posts threatened a specific student by name, while others threatened the school’s student body in general.
“The varying degrees of threats and who specifically threats went to and how detailed they were, those were taken into account as [charges] were decided,” Klunk said.
After an investigation of the comments, the Huntley Police Department conferred with the McHenry County State’s Attorney’s Office and charged the five juveniles.
More students were questioned in the investigation but were not charged after police deemed their posts were not threatening, Klunk said.
Klunk said he was not certain whether the juveniles were connected to a Feb. 4 incident where a student was removed from school after a conversation involving a student threatening to bring a weapon to school was overheard, according to an advisory from Huntley Community School District 158.
There was increased police presence at the school the week of Feb. 8 after a single bullet was found at the school Feb. 7. A sweep of the school on that day uncovered no other items, and Klunk said police do not think that incident is related.
All five boys have been petitioned to McHenry County Juvenile Court. Klunk said they are not currently in custody.
Klunk said there have not been any more threat-related issues at the school since police began their investigation.
Police are encouraging parents to speak with their children about appropriate use of social media and the potential consequences of bullying, harassment or threats.