WASHINGTON – Maryland prosecutors will not be able to charge a Laurel High School student for making threats to harm others because the state does not have a mass threats of violence statute.
“You make a generalized threat, you threaten to harm five or more, 10 or more people, and there is nothing we can do about that,” says Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Angela Alsobrooks.
Other laws are available to prosecutors when threats are made. Alsobrooks says the state has laws that make misusing the telephone and making bomb threats crimes.
“We need legislation in Maryland that allows us to address a threat like this one,” she says of the Laurel High School plot.
Police investigated what they called a “credible threat” after students alerted school officials that the unidentified teen made threatening comments.
When police searched his locker, they found further hints of the boy’s intentions, including drawings, diagrams and charts.
Police also believe that the boy had access to weapons. The case remains under investigation, and the teen is receiving mental health care.
Alsobrooks says Maryland has seen other similar cases including threats of a shooting rampage on the University of Maryland campus.
A former student was arrested in March after making a threat online to shoot up the campus. He pleaded guilty to to charges of disturbing the peace and misuse of a telephone and was sentenced to three years of probation.
“We’re seeing unfortunately a rise in that sort of conduct, and we want to make sure that we’re prepared to handle it,” Alsobrooks says.
She says she has already spoken with state delegates and senators about introducing legislation during the upcoming General Assembly session to address the gap in Maryland’s laws.
Maryland is one of seven states with no such statute, she says.
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