Virginia teen charged after Instagram post threatening school

Police lights are seen in this photo. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)(Getty Images/iStockphoto/Evgen_Prozhyrko)
WASHINGTON — A Falls Church, Virginia, high school student who posted a video on Instagram that appeared to be a threat against a school is now charged with a felony.

The video posted online turned out to be an empty threat, said Ashley Savage with Arlington police.

“The Instagram video shows an individual sitting in a parked car outside Wakefield High School. That individual exits the car, removes a mask, places the mask over his face and then removes what we later determine to be an airsoft rifle,” Savage said.

Though the rifle had the telltale orange tip indicating it wasn’t a real firearm, Savage said investigators still tracked down the boy. The teen does not attend Wakefield High School, but it is unclear why he chose to shoot the video in the school’s parking lot at noon on Jan. 25.

“A lot of juveniles that we’re dealing with are not thinking out the full consequences of what they are doing or how the message might be consumed by somebody else who may see a firearm outside of school and be legitimately afraid of what could possibly be behind that post,” Savage said.

A Secret Service agent was initially the person who alerted police to the video, Savage said. The lesson is that regardless of their intent, threats are taken seriously, she added.

“We work closely with our partners in the Arlington public school system to ensure that our school community is a safe learning environment. And once we identified who was involved in this, we did present our case to the Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney, who did approve us seeking charges in this case,” Savage said.

The teen, who remains unnamed given his age, is charged with prohibition of wearing a mask, a class six felony in Virginia.

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Megan Cloherty

WTOP Investigative Reporter Megan Cloherty primarily covers breaking news, crime and courts.

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