Ferndale student charged with threats; Conemaugh Valley 'back to normal'

Jan. 12—JOHNSTOWN, Pa. — A male student from Ferndale Area School District was charged with three misdemeanor counts each of terroristic threats, disorderly conduct and harassment after confessing to making threats of violence against Conemaugh Valley High School students and parents, police said Thursday.

Charges will likely be amended in court, East Taylor Township Police Department Det. Paul Deffenbaugh said.

The student, not yet 17 years old, was arrested Wednesday and will be tried as a juvenile.

Deffenbaugh said the student sent text messages and Snapchat videos speaking of gun violence that he would carry out at a Jan. 21 dance hosted by Conemaugh Valley.

There were several guns shown in the videos, one of which looked like an assault rifle, Deffenbaugh said. He said the investigation is ongoing.

The student had made threats to Conemaugh Valley students while in class at Ferndale Area, Deffenbaugh said.

The student is automatically suspended while the case is ongoing, Ferndale Area Superintendent Jeff Boyer said.

"It's unfortunate a student would do that in any school," Boyer said. "You feel bad when these things happen. You never know when it could be your turn. ... Hopefully the student involved learns a valuable lesson for all this."

Deffenbaugh said the student and his parents have cooperated with police.

The student apparently made the threats because of a couple of soured high school romances, Deffenbaugh said.

Deffenbaugh lauded Conemaugh Valley school officials for their quick actions leading to the arrest on Wednesday.

"With the cooperation of Conemaugh Valley officials, we were able to expeditiously take care of this so no one's safety was jeopardized," he said. "We all worked as a team, and it worked."

Multiple Conemaugh Valley students originally reported the information to school officials Wednesday.

On Thursday, Conemaugh Valley School District was back to normal, Superintendent Shane Hazenstab said.

"As far as from the school's standpoint, we are under normal operations," he said. "Attendance for the day is within normal range. There's been nothing outside of the norm."

One question Hazenstab said he's been getting from parents is: "What are you going to do about the dance?" Hazenstab said his opinion is that the dance should be hosted as planned.

"I'm not the supervisor of the club running the dance, but my opinion is we should have it as we would normally have it," he said. "A threat was shared, went through the proper channels and has been addressed. As far as I'm concerned, we are in normal operations."