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Hearings for Two Teens Accused of Making School Threats

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PLEASANT HILL, Iowa — Three Southeast Polk schools students accused of making threats over the social network Yik Yak are still being detained, but at least two could be released after undergoing psychological evaluations scheduled for this month.

The Des Moines Register reports two 16-year-old suspects appeared in court for detention hearings on Monday. They face felony charges, including intimidation with a dangerous weapon and harassment after police said their threats forced Southeast Polk officials to increase security.

Attorneys for the teens said Monday that both agreed to remain in detention until psychological examinations could be completed. The psychologist’s opinion will factor into whether the teens could be released into a house arrest and monitoring program, said assistant Polk County attorney Amanda Johnson.

If released from detention, one of the teens would be monitored 24 hours a day by an adult relative, said attorney Mike Bandstra. The teen doesn’t have access to any weapons at home, though he is accused of threatening to shoot people, Bandstra said. The parents of the teen sat in the courtroom through the hearing.

“My client has no priors, has no problems at school, there are no weapons in the home,” he said. “We just don’t see him as a risk.”

A psychological exam for the teen is scheduled for Tuesday. Bandstra said he does not expect the psychologist to find any “red flags” that would require the teen to remain in detention.

The other 16-year-old, who threatened to put an explosive device in a public place, will undergo a psychological evaluation on Dec. 9 that will determine whether he can be released to house arrest, said attorney Joseph Strong. Prosecutors will review the psychologist’s findings before either teen is released, Johnson said.

If released, Polk County District Judge Joseph Seidlin should issue an order preventing both teens from having any unmonitored use of social media, Johnson said.

A 13-year-old suspect also faces felony charges in the case, but waived a scheduled detention hearing. The teen, who is the brother of one of the other suspects, has also been ordered to undergo a psychological evaluation.

The exam has not yet been completed, Johnson said.