Teen who threatened to 'shoot up' Balbriggan school unlikely to face charges or court appearance

A teen who threatened to "shoot up" his Balbriggan school is unlikely to face charges, it has been revealed.

He was arrested yesterday after making the threatening message and posting a picture of a gun.

The 16-year-old is suspected of having a grudge and was arrested and questioned before he was released at midday yesterday.

The boy uploaded a twisted message online, insisting: “Don’t come in tomorrow if you have any regard for your life, you’ve been warned.

“I think ima shoot up Ardgillan Community College tomorrow. Think I’m joking, you’ll see tomorrow.”

The fifth-year student included a close-up image of his own face, but posted it on an Instagram account with a fictitious name on Monday night.

The teen is unlikely to face charges or a court appearance and will instead be dealt with under a Juvenile Diversion Programme, which gives young offenders a second chance.

The picture of the weapon resembles a handgun but sources said it may be nothing more than a cap gun.

Other students from the secondary school in Balbriggan, Co Dublin, saw the online threat and reported it.

One boy told the Irish Mirror: “It came out of the blue, he started putting up these pictures of a weapon and saying he was going to go into the school and shoot people.”

Another student added: “I don’t think there was any background to it, like I don’t think he had a problem with any one teacher in the school or anything like that. I think it was more a problem with the whole school.

“He’s in fifth year. I’ve seen him around but I don’t really know him.”

The pupils added they had seen screenshots of the messages that have been shared widely between students.

Shortly before 8am yesterday management sent a text message to parents telling them that the school would not be opening.

It read: “Ardgillan College will be closed today, October 9. We will be in touch later regarding school tomorrow.”

The blinds were closed at the building yesterday morning and staff declined to talk to the media.

A Dublin and Dun Laoghaire Education and Training Board spokesman said: “The board confirms

a school in North Co Dublin was closed today on a precautionary basis arising from a matter which came to the attention of school management and which has been referred to the gardai who are investigating.

“There are no further issues arising from this matter.”

Councillor Gerry McGuire, head of the school’s Board of Management, told the Irish Mirror: “I can confirm the school was closed after a threat was made. The gardai are now dealing with the incident.”

A garda spokesman said: “Gardai are investigating reports of online threats against staff at

a school in the North Dublin area.

“It’s understood the material was circulated online on Monday evening.

“Gardai are liaising with management and are now satisfied there is no imminent danger to staff or students attending the school.

“The youth arrested as part of this investigation has been released without charge and a file will be prepared for consideration under the Juvenile Diversion Programme.”

Local mum Katie Behan, who lives near the school in Castleland Park Way, said: “It’s terrifying. We found out at 8.45 this morning.”

The 31-year-old, who is originally from Oregon, told how her six-year-old boy attends the nearby Educate Together primary school and said if her family lived in the US, he would receive training for such an attack.

Ms Behan added: “They do gun drills in schools in the States, even at my son’s age.

“I hope people look at this kind of thing compassionately and realise normal kids don’t make threats online.”

A second mother in the same estate said: “We were told a boy had been arrested. He probably didn’t take it seriously, laughing and joking.

“A lot of people had put it up on Facebook that the school had been closed because of a threat.

“The internet is crazy. He probably went a bit mad and nowadays people say things over the internet. I hope it’s not a thing that starts happening every week.”

And a dad of two added: “It’s like something in the US. It’s shocking when it comes here.

“You hear these stories and now all of a sudden with social media it is happening here too.

“It is very frightening for the children, parents and staff. Everyone has been a teenager, I was a teenager, but I never thought, ‘I’m going to shoot a teacher’.

“What is going to happen now, who is going to press charges and under what article do they press a charge? They can’t let it go.”

A Department of Education spokesman told the Irish Mirror it’s up to school management to handle a threat.

He said: “The Board of Management is the body charged with the direct governance of a school and has responsibility for ensuring the health and safety of its staff and pupils.

“The Department will provide any support it can to a school in such a difficult situation.”

He added counselling is available if the school tells them that students have been upset by the threat.

The spokesman said: “NEPS psychologists are available upon request from school authorities to attend at a school to provide necessary direct assistance and advice to the school community.”

Yesterday’s threat comes less than a year after graffiti threatening a mass shooting was found on a toilet wall at Scoil Dara in Kilcock, Co Kildare.

The sick message said: “1st Tuesday in December, the shooter will come, no one will survive, trust no one.”

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