Fort Dodge Students Considered Heroes As Teenager Faces Terrorism Charges


FORT DODGE, Iowa -- It can happen anywhere, even Fort Dodge, Iowa.  "It was a group of youngsters having a conversation on social media.  From that point it dwindled down to two with one making threats and potentially participating in a school shooting," said Captain Ryan Gruenberg with the Fort Dodge Police Department.

Those threats were made towards both Fort Dodge High School and the middle school.  Gruenberg said, "These threats need to be taken seriously.”

Thankfully for the Fort Dodge Community School District a group of students thought the threat was no laughing matter either.  Gruenberg said, "The wherewithal of students to come forward initially and immediately allowed for the investigation to kick off immediately.”

Fort Dodge police tracked down the user behind the threatening post and pulled that fifteen year-old student from class.  "It was one student making direct threats and potentially participating in a school shooting," said Gruenberg.

The school district's Superintendent Dr. Doug Van Zyl is proud of the swift action taken by his students.  He said, "It’s a challenge.  There is peer pressure being called a snitch or other names because you did the right thing but doing the right thing isn’t always popular and that’s what we want folks to understand.”

While the fifteen year-old faces threats of terrorism charges, a class D felony, administration officials aren’t giving up on him.  Van Zyl said, "We love all of our kids and we want to make sure they are taken care of no matter what the situation is and it’s the actions we aren’t happy with.”

Investigators searched the supsects home and did not find any weapon that could carry out his online threat but just two weeks removed from the mass school shooting in south Florida that killed seventeen, Fort Dodge police believe there is no time for second guessing.  "These students taking the step they did is nothing short of heroic in our opinion," said Gruenberg.  He added, "We just commend them for their actions and hope other students will follow their lead.”

Because of his age, the suspect's identity is being withheld.  He was taken to the Central Iowa Juvenile Detention Center in Eldora where he will await court proceedings.