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Note found at school leads to teen's arrest

By ERIN SULLIVAN
Published April 21, 2007


NEW PORT RICHEY - In English class Friday, a student found a folded note on the floor and opened it. At the top was a drawing of a stick figure with a noose around its neck and the words "People who will die." Below were the names of five J.W. Mitchell High School students - three girls and two boys.

The student gave the note to the teacher, who then brought it to administrators and the school resource officer, Cpl. Joe Koehler. While Koehler was interviewing some of the students, one of them confessed - a 16-year-old boy who told Koehler he had written the list because those kids had been picking on him, according to a Pasco County Sheriff's Office arrest report.

The student was arrested on felony charges of making written threats to kill and was taken to the juvenile detention center. Pasco County sheriff's spokesman Kevin Doll said no weapons or drugs were found on the student, though more drawings were. Doll would not describe the drawings.

The student, whom the Times is not identifying because he is a juvenile, does not have a previous criminal record, Doll said.

Joanne Glenn, an assistant principal at Mitchell, said the student has been suspended with the recommendation of expulsion. She would not give details about the student, saying only that staffers were surprised.

"Nobody likes to think of any student having these kinds of thoughts," said Glenn.

"I think this student was experiencing conflict and, as a way to vent some of those feelings, did this," she said.

Mitchell principal Ric Mellin talked with the five students named in the note and their parents. Mellin also sent a letter home with all students, letting them know about what happened.

An automated calling system also phoned all students' families and relayed a message about the incident.

Glenn said guidance counselors will be on hand Monday to talk with students. Parents are encouraged to call the school at 727 774-9200 if they have any concerns.

Erin Sullivan can be reached at esullivan@sptimes.com or (813) 909-4609.