A juvenile who allegedly made a social media post threatening a school shooting toward Lake Villa District 41 schools has been identified by investigators and is being charged.
On Wednesday, Lake Villa School District 41 sent an email to parents saying that they were aware of rumors circulating about a student “shooting up” a school that prompted the district’s schools to go on soft lockdown.
District 41 schools include Thompson School in Lake Villa, Palombi Middle School in Lake Villa, Martin Elementary School in Lake Villa and BJ Hooper Elementary in Lindenhurst.
The district said the threat was connected to the stolen car incident that occurred on Friday at Palombi Middle School in Lake Villa.
The Lake Villa Police Department said the stolen car incident occurred around 8:15 a.m. Friday.
Lake Villa Police Department Lieutenant James DeCaro told Lake and McHenry County Scanner that it was determined a 13-year-old male student gained access to a staff member’s car keys.
The student stole the staff member’s gray 2019 Kia Sorento SUV from the school’s parking lot.
The juvenile is a Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) ward of the state, DeCaro said.
He is believed to have driven to the Rockford area, which is where he is originally from.
DeCaro said a follow-up investigation determined that the juvenile may have accessed a firearm while on the run.
Law enforcement and DCFS authorities in the Rockford area were notified of the incident and have been actively attempting to locate the juvenile.
Lake Villa School District 41 said in their Wednesday email that the stolen car has since been recovered.
The school district did not specify how the stolen car incident and the social media threat were connected.
The district said they worked with the Lake Villa and Lindenhurst police departments to secure their buildings and investigate the credibility of the social media threat.
Police were at the district’s four school buildings during student arrival Wednesday morning and increased patrols are taking place Thursday.
The Lake Villa Police Department said in a statement they were aware of a “widely circulated Instagram post” that made reference to the safety of the schools.
“We are investigating the post, which does not appear credible. We take these threats seriously and as a precaution, we have an extra police presence at our schools,” the police department said.
All buildings were placed on a soft lockdown district-wide as a precautionary measure.
During a soft lockdown, the perimeter is secured and exterior doors and windows are locked. Students may move freely throughout the school.
In an update Wednesday evening, the Lake Villa Police Department said investigators identified the person responsible for the transmission of the social media threat.
Charges were being filed against the juvenile offender through the Lake County State’s Attorney’s Office.
“Our police department takes all threats serious and offenders will be charged to the fullest extent. As we indicated earlier, this was not a credible post. We appreciate the partnership with our school administration and we are committed to keeping our schools and community safe,” the police department said.
DeCaro said the student being charged for the Instagram post is not the same student who is wanted for stealing the staff member’s car from Palombi Middle School last week.
The two students have no connection to each other, he added.
School resumed as normal Thursday morning, the district said in an updated statement.