(Reuters) - An Iowa mother is facing criminal charges for a message posted on Facebook that threatened a school shooting in retaliation for bullying against her 15-year-old son.
Teri Pallat, 39, of Council Bluffs, Iowa was arrested on Monday and charged with making a “terroristic threat” and harassment for allegedly warning school administrators that they would be to blame if her son shot up Lewis Central High School, where he was a sophomore.
According to Council Bluffs police, the post read: “And they asked why do people shoot up schools, well this is exactly why and when our son does it cause I know he will have nobody to blame but the administration and I promise everyone he will only get the ones that caused this. He is an excellent marks men.”
The message was posted only days after a student armed with a shotgun wounded at least two classmates at a suburban Denver, Colorado high school on Friday before taking his own life.
Lewis Central school officials had no immediate comment Tuesday, but police said the school contacted law enforcement after the posting on Facebook Monday afternoon.
Teri Pallat, who posted $10,000 bond and was out of jail on Tuesday, told Reuters that she could not discuss the matter in detail but thought the response to the message was overblown.
“I can’t believe this. I am just an everyday person. Facebook is what this is all about,” Pallat said in a phone interview.
Meredith Pallat, Teri’s wife, told Reuters that the message was the culmination of more than a year of frustration in trying to get the high school to either respond to severe bullying that left their son with lasting physical injuries, or to release him for enrollment at another school.
The family had reported the bullying both to the school and to police prior to the message being posted, she said.
“He has been bullied for about a year and a half now... He’s been hazed... beaten. The school refuses to discuss this matter at all,” said Meredith Pallat. “We’ve been just trying to get the bullying to stop. All we want to do is get our child a safe education. No one will do anything.”
Following the Facebook message, the high school expelled the 15-year-old, Meredith Pallat said.
Council Bluffs Police Sergeant Chad Meyers said in light of the rash of school shootings around the country, threats like this one are “investigated to the fullest extent possible.”
The community has not had a school shooting and wants to keep it that way, Meyers said.
So far this year, there have been 28 shootings on U.S. school grounds during school hours, according to a tally kept by the gun control advocacy groups Mayors Against Illegal Guns and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense.
One year ago this month, a gunman killed 20 first-graders and six adults before killing himself at the Sandy Hook Elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut.
Reporting By Carey Gillam; Editing by Karen Brooks and Tim Dobbyn