CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Two Raleigh County High School students who made allegedly terroristic threats against classmates at Shady Spring High School are getting the help that they need according to Raleigh County Sheriff Steve Tanner.

The two boys were taken into custody last week after several students told their parents about a threat made on social media referencing a Columbine-like attack. The parents then notified law enforcement. Tanner said they took quick action.

“We took one of the kids into custody and interviewed him with his mother present,” according to Tanner. “It was very apparent and obvious that the child needed some psychological help.”

The second student was later taken into custody and mental health experts are trying to determine if he needs psychological help as well. A third student was questioned, but investigators believe he was just an “active listener.” 

Tanner told MetroNews Tuesday they still don’t know how far the two teens were willing to go.

“We run into the idea of when is it ‘talk’ and when is does it become a plot? To me, the difference is when they start taking actions to cause the incident to occur,” Tanner said. “We hadn’t quite reached that stage where they’re setting guns or ammo up or making bombs, the kind of things that would truly send everyone into a tailspin.”

Tanner said he wanted to make sure they weren’t under reacting or over reacting. .

“We were either very fortunate to interrupt it so early into the process or they were just talking. That’s a sure sign that somebody may need psychological help but perhaps not need to be in the criminal justice system,” according to Tanner.

He said it’s a reminder that families need to stay in touch with their kids.

“Parents need to be involved in their children’s lives so they can see problems when they manifest themselves and it doesn’t take a law enforcement response to stop a situation.”

For now, Tanner said they will focus on getting the teens the help they need, rather than filing charges.

Tanner spoke with MetroNews Tuesday while attending a news conference at the state capitol.

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