DENVER (AP) — Three students were charged with conspiracy to commit murder and police patrols were increased around a rural Colorado school after an anonymous student notified authorities about a suspicious list of names which was posted online.
Three juvenile suspects were detained and arrested Monday morning and “have since been released to their parents under supervision of the courts,” district attorney Jim Bullock said.
The three minors, who have not been identified, were charged Tuesday with conspiracy to commit murder in the first degree and interference with an educational institution, Bullock said. They are due back in court on Dec. 5.
Kyle Hebberd, superintendent of the Swink School District, said there has been increased police presence at the kindergarten through 12th grade school which houses almost 400 students in one building. “The sheriff has patrols around. I believe they’re doing a fantastic job,” he said.
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Otero County Sheriff Shawn Mobley said the term “hit list” was used by parents and students at the school to describe the list, but the term was not used by his office.
“We are still trying to determine who exactly all the names on the “List” refer to as part of our investigation,” he wrote in an email.
Mobley wouldn’t comment further on a motive or the identities of the people on the list. Students posted the list online, he said.
“Yes, my name was on the list,” 16-year-old student, Ryan Phelps said in a phone interview. The 10th grader said he recognized all but three or four names on the list and recognized the handwriting.
“I think it’s crazy. I don’t know what I did to them,” he said, acknowledging he has worked with one of the suspected students on many class projects and sits next to her “in like six classes.”
“It just makes me nervous honestly. Just nervous. That’s about it,” Phelps said.
Lexi Brashaw, a sophomore at the school says she too recognized the handwriting, adding, “They would joke about it all the time and sometimes they would play “Pumped Up Kicks,” and post it on their Snapchat. Nobody ever thought that would have ever happened.”
Willie Bernstrauch’s two children have attended the Swink School for the past three years.
He says he found out about the incident on Facebook after a news organization posted the story.
“We didn’t get a phone call saying that anything had happened,” he said. He also didn’t find out The Otero County Sheriff’s Office held a briefing at the school until two hours after it was over.