Salina, KS

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Threats Prompt Student Arrests

Todd PittengerOctober 21, 2022

An alleged threat of a school shooting prompted the arrest of four Salina high school students.

Police say on Thursday after school was dismissed for the day they received information that during lunch at Salina South High School a student made a statement to three other boys regarding shooting up the school. Then all four boys were seen putting their hands together, seemly indicating they were all in agreement to participate.

The statement and handshake were witnessed by another student who was alarmed and reported it to their parent. The four male students were identified after the school resource officers, and school officials reviewed the video recording from the school cafeteria.

Through their investigation, police detectives and the school resource officer established probable cause to make arrests and have requested the charge of Aggravated Criminal Threat, a severity level 5 felony person felony, for each of the following students.

  • Colten Penn, age 17, South High Student
  • Kaydence Muchow, age 16, South High Student
  • Derek Eustice, age 15, South High Student
  • Aidan Bingham, age 15, South High Student

An arrest affidavit for such charges has been submitted to the Salina County Attorney’s Office. All were booked into juvenile detention.

This is an example where a citizen’s tip has led to the quick arrest of individuals involved in criminal acts committed at Salina South High School. As a reminder, citizen tips are often instrumental in helping clear criminal cases. Parents, please talk to your children about reporting suspicious activity or criminal acts they may be aware of to you, a school official, and/or the police. If students see or hear
something, they should say something.

Since the beginning of the school year, the police department has investigated at least 14 criminal threats cases at Salina middle and high schools. Some cases have resulted in arrests, and some have not, but the Salina Police Department takes these threats seriously and will work to identify suspect(s) and make an arrest as quickly as possible when probable cause exists. With that said, these incidents of school related threats is a drain on the police department and USD305 resources. The police department is already working with reduced staffing and these frequent threat cases is consuming an enormous amount of time by our police detectives. Time that could be spent investigating violent crime in our community.
Interim Police Chief Sean Morton  says as a chief of police and a parent, he strongly encourages all parents to have a conversation with their children about the seriousness of making these types of threatening statements. Whether it is a written message on a bathroom stall, a posting on social media, a chat message, or verbally, no one knows the actual intent behind the threat.

There also needs to be an understanding the Kansas criminal threats statute includes language that if a threatening statement is made with reckless disregard of the risk of causing fear or evacuation, lockdown or disruption in regular ongoing activities, it is a violation of the
law. This also include the act of calling in a false threat of an activate shooter at any location. So, this isn’t a joke, and it is serious.

Before doing something that students think would be funny or they think would be a joke, students need to think about the consequences; being handcuffed, being fingerprinted, having a mug photo taken, being booked into juvenile detention, being involved in the juvenile criminal justice system, having a criminal record, fines, attorney’s fees, possibly being ineligible for college scholarships or being unable to enlist in the military.

Every person accused of a crime is presumed to be innocent unless and until his or her guilt is established beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

If you have information relative to this case please call Crimestoppers at 825-TIPS. You can also make an on—line tip at: https://www.p3tips.com/tipform.aspx?ID=950#.

Tipsters may also contact the Salina Police Department at (785) 826-7210.

You may receive a cash reward of up to $1,000.

Copyright © Meridian Media, 2022. All Rights Reserved. No part of this story may be reproduced without Meridian Media’s express consent.

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