School threats are no joking matter

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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) -- School threats are no joking matter and the Shawnee County District Attorney’s office is ready to take action to stress the point.

Someone who thinks they're making a joke could end up charged with a felony crime.

“We have zero tolerance for that kind of behavior,” Shawnee County District Attorney Mike Kagay stressed.

He says every threat will be treated as a crime, even if someone claims it was only a joke.

“It’s too serious. As we’ve seen across the country over the past several years, there have been a lot of tragic shootings in schools,” he recalled.

Recently, Kagay charged 20-year-old Isaiah Hodge with aggravated criminal threat which could land him 2-and-a-half to 11 years in jail if convicted. Kagay says Hodge posted a school shooting threat against Topeka West High School on social media. Administrators put the school on secure campus and investigated.

“The first phase of an active shooter is that fantasy stage. Whether being wronged at work, wronged at school, out in public. Being angry about something, so they will fantasize about it. They’ll think about it and most of the time they will say something. They’ll get on social media. They’ll tell a friend. They’ll ask somebody for help,” detailed Errin Mahan, who provides a lot of training for Shawnee County Emergency Management.

They do training with local districts, going over the signs of a possible shooter, proper response, and talking to students about if you see something, say something.

“Always treat every single threat you might hear as real,” Mahan stressed.

Both Emergency Management and the D.A. say times have changed, and joking about violence is no laughing matter.

“It really doesn’t take much at all to really panic people,” Mahan added.

“Unfortunately that’s the world we live in today and I don’t believe there’s any leeway. I don’t thinking there’s any consideration that you can give in these types of cases,” Kagay added.

Kagay says possible charges for these incidents include criminal threat, aggravated criminal threat and possibly even a terrorism charge.