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Student arrested in case of threatening Flag High notes

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A student was arrested Thursday afternoon in connection with the threatening notes at Flagstaff High School.

Flagstaff police arrested a 17-year-old female at the high school after concluding she was responsible for writing a threatening school note found earlier in the day. No further details were given on how she was discovered.

Flagstaff Police Chief Kevin Treadway said the latest note was found in the girls bathroom 10 minutes before the note said an alleged attack was to occur.

Treadway said the student has confessed to being responsible for the latest note, but he could not confirm that she was involved in the six other notes found since March that referred to a Columbine-type incident.

The student was interviewed after a police investigation and arrested at the high school.

She is currently being booked into Coconino County Detention Facility. She has been charged with one felony count of interfering with an educational institution and one misdemeanor count of threats and intimidation.

Flagstaff High School students were released early on Wednesday after another note was found -- the sixth in the past month. No new names or dates were in the note, according to Flagstaff Police Sgt. Cory Runge.

Wednesday was an early release day, but after finding the note officers and school officials released students at around noon instead of around 1 p.m. Students were told to shelter in place, which means the students were able to walk around the school but the doors to the outside were locked.

There was already a strong police presence at the school because one of the previous five notes had mentioned April 26 as a date that something might happen.

In March, five notes were found in bathrooms around the school. The notes stated that something would happen at the school on April 20 or April 26. One of the notes also mentioned a few teachers and students by name.

At a meeting last week at Flagstaff High School, Flagstaff Deputy Police Chief Dan Mussleman said the department has interviewed about 50 to 60 people about the notes at the school. The department has also been granted about six search warrants for information and evidence. He said the department has several leads and is working with the FBI and the Arizona Department of Public Safety’s Crime Lab to analyze evidence in the case. He declined to say what evidence other than the notes was found and who the department had interviewed. He said the department does have a plan in place in case something happens, but declined to detail the plan.

At Tuesday night’s Flagstaff Unified School District board meeting, Flagstaff High School Principal Tony Cullen said the school has instituted several measures to help keep students safe and is working on a rough draft of a letter to parents on what to expect if an emergency happens at the school.

He said the students and staff have been doing lock-down emergency drills on a regular basis through the whole school year. Staff have put laminated posters in the school's bathrooms to remind students on what to do in an emergency if they find themselves in the hall or bathroom.

Staff have also been limiting early access to the building in the morning, he said. In the past, it was not unusual for students to arrive early to school and hang out with friends in the common area. Staff are now keeping the doors locked until 7:30 a.m. and limiting the number of outside doors that are unlocked that students can use to go in and out of the building. Those doors that are unlocked have either a security camera or a person or both watching who comes in and out.

The school has also instituted a hallway pass system for students, Cullen said. Each teacher has a sign-out sheet in their room where students must sign out and then back in to use the bathroom or get something from a locker during class.

Treadway said that police will continue to have increased presence at the school until they can confirm no one else is involved.

Anyone with information about the notes should contact Detective Barreras at (928)679-4055 or Silent Witness at (928)774-6111. Silent Witness is offering a reward of $5,000 for information leading to an arrest.

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