By Bob Uphues
A 15-year-old Riverside boy who was charged with robbing a high school classmate earlier this month was arrested again on Jan. 29 after allegedly threatening, via social media, to shoot two Riverside-Brookfield High School students.
Riverside police charged the boy with two counts of disorderly conduct and two counts of making a threat through electronic communication.
Police Chief Thomas Weitzel said that his officers worked with the high school's safety liaison, who alerted them to the threats, which were made via Facebook and Snapchat.
According to police, the messages included a photo of the juvenile holding a gun and stated he was going to shoot the two students, though he did not specifically say he was coming to RBHS to shoot them. The juvenile no longer attends RBHS; he attends an alternative school in Hillside, police said.
Police identified the juvenile from prior contacts with him, including an alleged robbery that took place in an alley near the intersection of East and Pine avenues on Jan. 4.
Weitzel said Riverside police have now arrested the juvenile nine times, and that none of the alleged offenses have been adjudicated yet through the juvenile court system.
Once they'd identified the juvenile, police said they contacted his mother and drove her to the boy's school, where he was detained. During an interview in the mother's presence, said police, the boy admitted that the gun in the photo was real.
However, he reportedly said, he no longer possessed the gun, because it had been used in a shooting in 2017 in Chicago. Riverside police are also trying to confirm that information, Weitzel said.
The boy's mother also gave police consent to search her home, said police. No firearm was found there. The boy reportedly told police he sent the social media threats in the wake of being threatened himself, but police said they found no validity to that claim.
Weitzel said he has written to the police liaison for Cook County Juvenile Justice, a former prosecutor, to push for adjudication of the cases pending against the boy.
"He's going down this path of destruction, and something is going to happen tragically with this young man," Weitzel said. "I want someone to intervene."