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Genesee County prosecutor says 11 students are facing charges for school threats

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GENESEE COUNTY, Mich. (WJRT) - Following the deadly shooting at Oxford High School, Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton is dealing with a spike in copycat threats.

"We've charged 11, and I think we have six to seven more under review, and I wouldn't be surprised by the end of the week if our numbers are up to 20 or even as high as 25," Leyton said.

He's charging 11 middle and high school students for making threats about shooting up schools. The prosecutor said there's no sign of slowing down, expecting to see another 10 or 15 more charges in the coming days.

Leyton said that the 11 have all been charged as juveniles, so the most they can be held by a judge is up to 21-years-old. In doing so, he wants to send a strong message to the community.

"It's wrong. They shouldn't do it and they're going to pay the price. They're going to get locked up and they're going to have a record," Leyton said.

It started just two days after the shooting at Oxford High School, when Leyton charged a 17-year-old student at Flint Southwestern Academy with threatening to shoot up the school.

Since then, Leyton siad 10 more have been charged in other schools around Genesee County, including three charged at Carman-Ainsworth Middle School, one at Linden High School, one at Hamady High School, one at Linden Charter Academy and four in other schools in Genesee County. Six or seven more are currently under review.

"Because of the proximity of the Oxford tragedy, because it's been so publicized where we live, I think we've had a lot of kids come out of the woodwork. A, they think it's funny. B, they think it'll get them out of school. C, it'll get them out of taking a test," Leyton said.

For those continuing to bring that number up, Leyton said the price is steep: false report or threat of terrorism and using a computer to commit a crime are a 20-year felonies.

"We've had some parents who have said, 'Oh, you're being too harsh,' but I have to protect the community, and my job as chief law enforcement officer is to make sure that these kids get the message. I mean, these kids are shutting down school districts. We cannot allow that to happen," Leyton said.

He is calling on parents to be clear with their kids about their future, telling them to not even think about committing this crime. If they know someone who is thinking about it, tell them they need to report it to the school resource officer or school principal.