MHS teen charged with terrorism for Facebook threat

Another local boy has been charged with making terrorist threats.

Police charged Santos Villa Gomez, 16, of Marshalltown, with the charge, a Class D felony, Monday.

Capt. Mike Hanken, with the Marshalltown Police Department, said officers became aware of threats of violence made via Facebook Jan. 22.

Hanken said the threats were vague and not directed at anyone in particular but that Gomez claimed it would occur at Marshalltown High School.

Officers went to speak to the boy and his mother at their Marshalltown home the day of the incident. Police took the boy in for a psychiatric evaluation and subsequently charged him before releasing him into the custody of his parents.

Aiddy Phomvisay, principal at Marshalltown High School, said the school is taking a proactive approach to educating students on this issue. The day following the incident, school staff held an assembly, speaking to sophomores on the seriousness of such threats. The school intends to speak to all grade levels.

In an increasingly digital age, he said, students need to be aware that their actions can have dire consequences, he added.

“I don’t want that for any students, but we have to act upon (these types of threats),” he said. “We have to educate young people that it’s not OK to say things like this.”

The alleged threat came one week after police charged another MHS teen, Johnny Fox, 17, with the same charge for making threats of violence that, police say, Fox threatened to perpetrate at a school function.

Phomvisay said both incidents were taken care of in a timely and professional manner because of a caring culture. Those who brought the threat to the attention of authorities did so because they care deeply for the safety of the students and staff of the high school.

The case will be handled by Juvenile Court Services. Hanken said he doesn’t anticipate any more charges on Villa Gomez. Police made information about Gomez’s arrest available Wednesday.