Crime & Courts

Shooting threat against East High School leads to arrest of teen boy

An Anchorage teenager was arrested Wednesday after he made school shooting threats in text messages sent to multiple East High students, police said.

The messages from the boy, who is not currently enrolled in classes, included a picture of East High, gun and knife emoji, the words "kill kill kill," and a statement that he would buy a gun, according to the Anchorage Police Department.

East High students told a teacher about the messages early Wednesday, said school Principal Sam Spinella.

Students and staff contacted their school resource officer at 7:25 a.m. — shortly before classes started, said Lt. Richard Henning, commander of the Anchorage Police Department's School Resource Officer program.

"At no time were students at East High School in any imminent danger at school this morning," Spinella wrote Wednesday morning in an email to parents. "We appreciate the students who brought this information to our attention so we could follow up to ensure our students' safety."

School resource officers went to the home of the boy who sent the text messages, police said in an alert. He is a former East High student, police said.

Henning said he couldn't identify the teenager or say how old he is because he's a minor. Spinella also said he couldn't release additional information about the boy, including when he last attended classes at East High.


Police said the boy didn't answer the door when police arrived at his home. His mother was contacted. She returned from work and let the officers inside, according to police.

The boy was arrested and taken to the McLaughlin Youth Center. Charges were forwarded to the Division of Juvenile Justice, which operates within the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services. The charges were for "terroristic threatening," according to Tracy Dompeling, division director.

"The Anchorage Police Department takes these types of situations very seriously," police said. "APD is grateful to the students who immediately contacted authorities after receiving the texts."

Police declined to release additional details about the text messages Wednesday, including how many students received them and when they were sent.

"Multiple students received the texts," Renee Oistad, police spokeswoman, wrote in an email. "We are not going to get any more specific than that as this is an open and ongoing investigation."

About 1,800 students are enrolled at East High.

Tegan Hanlon

Tegan Hanlon was a reporter for the Anchorage Daily News between 2013 and 2019. She now reports for Alaska Public Media.