Knoch High School student accused of Snapchat threat to stand trial
A Knoch High School student was ordered Wednesday to stand trial on charges of making online threats to shoot classmates.
District Judge Sue Haggerty moved all charges against Jason Bowen, 18, of Middlesex, to Butler County Common Pleas Court during a preliminary hearing. He is accused of making terroristic threats, causing a catastrophe, possessing drug paraphernalia and a weapons offense.
Bowen’s defense attorney, David Shrager, argued for his client’s $100,000 bond to be reduced, but Haggerty said she had concerns doing so because a mental-health evaluation conducted after Bowen’s arrest recommended that he see a psychologist.
“I’m definitely not comfortable at this point changing anything,” Haggerty said.
Bowen is accused of posting a Snapchat video of him shooting a semi-automatic rifle with the caption “training for prom walk,” according to court documents. In a separate Instagram post last February, authorities say Bowen gave a thumbs-up to the 2012 shooting in Newtown, Conn., in which a gunman killed 20 children and seven adults before taking his own life.
Middlesex police officer Collin Lawson testified during Wednesday’s preliminary hearing that Bowen gave a voluntary written statement admitting to posting the Snapchat video. Bowen told police he didn’t intend to follow through with any kind of shooting, according to Lawson.
Shrager said the video was an inappropriate joke.
“My client didn’t make an actual, credible threat,” he said.
Russ Karl, assistant district attorney for Butler County, said whether it was a joke or not, Bowen caused widespread panic within the school and community.
“He made a bad adult decision and now he needs consequences,” Karl said.
Shrager said he will file a motion to get the bond reduced once the case is transferred to higher court.
“He’s barely 18,” Shrager said. “He’s not equipped to deal with this.”
Bowen’s next court appearance is scheduled for March 12.
South Butler School District officials continue to deal with potential threats.
Continued rumors of possible violence following Bowen’s arrest caused the district to operate under a modified lockdown on Friday.
District police were told of another potential threat in a Snapchat post at the end of the school day Tuesday, according to a letter from Superintendent David Foley.
No details about the post or its author were provided.
According to the letter, school police identified the author, informed that person’s parents and reported it to state police and the Butler County District Attorney.
“The investigation of this matter has determined that the post did not pose a credible threat to the health, safety and welfare of the students and staff of the South Butler County School District,” Foley said in the letter. “However, the district will follow its discipline procedures in addressing the inappropriate post.”
Emily Balser and Brian Rittmeyer are Tribune-Review staff writers.
Brian C. Rittmeyer is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Brian at 724-226-4701, email@example.com or via Twitter .