Officials at an elementary school in Anchorage said they uncovered a plot among three first-grade students to kill a classmate using poison, according to news reports.
The conspiracy was foiled when another student at Winterberry Charter School overheard the alleged plotters discussing their plan and alerted a teacher, Anchorage School District spokeswoman Heidi Embley told CBS affiliate KTVA.
“The age is one of the things that is most surprising to people who were hearing about this,” Embley told the Alaska Dispatch News. “The kids are at such a young age,” she said. “Without revealing any information as to what occurred during the investigation, there are a lot of conversations to get an understanding of what actually happened, how the students were feeling.”
Given the students’ age, she told KTVA, officials aren’t sure whether they knew what they were doing.
The nefarious plan, school officials say, involved using silica gel — a substance commonly found inside sealed food bags that is designed to reduce spoilage — to poison their classmate, according to the Dispatch News. Details of the plan were not immediately available, but it appears that the students had overlooked one detail: Silica gel is not toxic.
“The students had taken some plastic packets that are inside of a sealed food bag, meant for preservation of the food and say ‘do not consume’ on the packaging, and brought them to school with the intent of putting them in another student’s lunch,” Anchorage Police Department spokeswoman Jennifer Castro told KTVA.
“The students had thought the packets contained poison,” she added. “The plot was not actually carried out.”
The station reported that the Anchorage Police Department became involved in the case when the plot was reported to the elementary school’s resource officer. Officials said the officer spoke with all three students and declined to file charges.
Embley told KTVA that the students faced disciplinary action, but she declined to divulge details of their punishment. NBC affiliate KTUU reported that the children faced suspension and were expected to return to school after their punishment was completed.
Embley noted that a letter to parents was sent out the same day the plot was discovered. She said safety is the school’s “top priority” and added that the school district takes all threats to student safety “very seriously.”
“It is important for parents to talk with their children about speaking up when they learn of something that could potentially harm others,” Castro told KTVA. “We are thankful for the student [who] said something to a trusted authority when they learned of the potentially harmful situation to another student.”