'Words and pictures matter': Two Alaska 13-year-olds arrested for middle school shooting plans, police say

Kristin Lam, USA TODAY

Alaska authorities arrested two 13-year-old students for planning to bring a gun to their school and shoot people, the Juneau Police Department said in a release

Officers took the juveniles into custody Thursday morning at Floyd Dryden Middle School after receiving a report the previous night, police said. It's among the latest in a string of arrests for mass violence threats since the back-to-back shootings this month that killed 31 people in El Paso and Dayton, Ohio.

A classmate overheard the male students discuss the shooting plans, Juneau School District Superintendent Bridget Weiss told The Juneau Empire. The student's parents reported the threat to police.

Police questioned the juveniles before school began Thursday and arrested them for making terroristic threats, a felony offense in Alaska, according to the police department. Classes continued as usual, Weiss said, and the district emailed parents to tell them what happened. 

'People are on edge': Mass violence threats – at least 30 in 18 states – have surged since El Paso, Dayton

“We really want students to know there are significant consequences now to making threats like this,” Weiss told the Empire. “Words and pictures matter. They do indicate threat.”

To respond to similar threats, the district has increased security measures and trained staff for active shooter situations, the district's chief of staff, Kristin Bartlett, told local station KTOO. 

“Every year, we get a little bit better about putting all of these aspects in place, so that we’re teaching in an environment where people feel secure,” Bartlett told KTOO. “We have preventative measures in place. They’re prepared, and it takes everybody in the school to work together.”

Juneau police previously arrested a student for making terroristic threats in January. A 16-year-old brought a BB gun to Juneau-Douglas High School, putting the campus on lockdown, a news release said. No one was injured, but police noted mass shootings across the country put people on high alert. 

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Alaska school shooting threat: Juneau police arrest 2 teens for plans