Local police arrest MHS teen on terrorism charge

The Marshalltown Police Department has charged a Marshalltown High School student with terrorist acts for threatening to bring a gun to a school function.

Police charged Johnny Fox, 17, of Marshalltown, with two counts of first-degree harassment, aggravated misdemeanors, and a threat of terrorism, a Class D felony.

Capt. Chris Jones, with the Marshalltown Police Department, said Fox threatened two students via text messages.

“Terrorism specifically revolves around the intent to intimidate people,” he said. “Since the school is a unit of government, the charge turns to terrorism.”

Jones said charging terrorism is not common, but was warranted in this case because of the nature of the threats.

Students at the school made administrators aware of the threats, and police visited Fox and his family at their home Wednesday.

Aiddy Phomvisay, principal at MHS, said the school takes such threats very seriously and that school staff strive to provide a safe, nurturing learning environment for all students. He encouraged parents to discuss the seriousness of such threats with their children.

No incident occurred thanks to the rapid response of the Marshalltown Police Department and the willingness of the students to come forward. Classes continued as normal.

“Our students performed greatly because they wanted to help the student We need a school that students feel safe in,” Phomvisay said. “It may have prevented something much worse. That’s how we prevent terrible things from happening is when we have a community that cares.”

The MPD will continue to investigate the allegations against the teen. Jones said police are still trying to determine if charges against the other students involved in the exchange are warranted.

The MPD is working with MHS officials and the Iowa Department of Juvenile Court Services as the investigation continues. Fox is being held at a juvenile detention center.