Chicago-area H.S. on alert after Web threat

School officials found threat on MySpace, used emergency phone system


East Aurora High School was on alert Tuesday after police responded over the weekend to threats allegedly made by a former student on his MySpace page that made reference to the Northern Illinois University shootings.

Although authorities Sunday determined the threats were unfounded, the 15-year-old student is being investigated, Kane County State's Atty. John Barsanti said Tuesday.

School officials used the emergency phone system to alert all district households Monday -- a day off for students -- and police presence was increased at the school Tuesday. Police would not comment on how long the increased presence would remain at the school.

"We're confident that it is safe for students to be in school," Aurora police spokesman Dan Ferrelli said.

The online comments specifically named students and indicated that it would be deserved if they met with a violent end, according to authorities. The student mentioned Thursday's violence at NIU in which a gunman killed five students and himself, authorities said.

The Aurora Township student also mentioned other school shootings, officials said. According to Ferrelli, the student said in the posting that he would never hurt anyone.

Police said they were alerted to the message Sunday morning by parents of the mentioned students. The Aurora Police Department and Kane County Sheriff's Department questioned the student and determined there was no credible threat, and no charges were filed.

Barsanti said his office is especially sensitive in the wake of the NIU shooting, an incident that can spark copycats.

"Certainly, we have a heightened awareness. It's in the front of everybody's mind right now," he said. "We need to be very careful and observant and ready to move."

While East Aurora normally has one Aurora police officer and some security officers stationed, additional Aurora police officers were at the school Tuesday.

East Aurora School District 131 spokesman Clayton Muhammad said the student had been suspended Feb. 5 for a "completely unrelated" incident and had been referred to an alternative school to finish his academic year.

Although Ferrelli called the student's message rambling and "more eerie than threatening," Muhammad said it was still cause for action.