An Ohio middle-school student has been accused of threatening to shoot and kill a Muslim schoolmate, calling him a “terrorist” and a “towel head,” police said.
A seventh-grader at Morton Middle School in Vandalia, near Dayton, got into an argument with another student Dec. 7 on a school bus, asking the boy if he was going to bomb him and calling the student “son of ISIS,” according to a police report. The seventh-grader faces a 10-day suspension and possible expulsion, according to the school district. Police said he also faces charges of aggravated menacing and ethnic intimidation.
The seventh-grader was arrested and transported to a juvenile detention center.
“First and foremost in our minds is the safety and security of our students,” Vandalia-Butler City Schools Superintendent Brad Neavin said in a statement. “It is important for our students and their parents to understand we take them at their word when they make these threats. We will treat all threats seriously, taking immediate and decisive action to protect the safety and welfare of our students, staff and community.”
The seventh-grader told police that he got into an argument in a school bus last week with a sixth-grader, who is Muslim, because, he said, the student never wants to sit down and plays his music too loudly, according to the police report. The seventh-grader admitted to using racial slurs and telling the sixth-grader he was responsible for bringing down the Twin Towers during 9/11 because he was Muslim, according to the report.
Another student who said he witnessed the incident reported it to the school, which alerted authorities, the district said in a statement. A witness later told police that the seventh-grader said something about bringing a .40-caliber handgun to school the next day to end the argument, according to the police report, though the seventh-grader told police he did not remember saying anything about the gun.
When asked whether he might have said it out of anger, “he said he probably did,” according to the report.
“When I was finished with my interview,” Vandalia Police Det. Jennifer Chiles wrote in the report, “I asked him if he wanted to write an apology letter to [the other student], and he said he did.”
The seventh-grader wrote a letter telling him “he was sorry for what he did and sorry for scaring him.”
Ahmad Murab, the sixth-grader’s father, told The Washington Post that his son came home scared, saying: ” ‘I don’t want to go to school, I don’t want to go to school.’ ” The family, he said, found out from other students what had happened.
Murab said he considers the threat a hate crime but does not blame the older student for it. Instead, he said, he blames the news media and possibly the boy’s parents for shaping his world view.
“Call a criminal a criminal; don’t call a Muslim a terrorist,” Murab said. “It gets this seventh-grader to think all Muslims are bad. I don’t blame him. You put us in a dangerous situation.”
He added: “I don’t blame the other kid. How does he know about the world? Adults are telling him to call people those names.”
Murab said his children were born in the United States and don’t deserve to be singled out.
“This country has Muslims, Christians, Buddhists and people who don’t believe in anything,” he said. “The U.S. is a melting pot.”
He added: “I don’t want to get killed because of my name. … We work; we do everything good.”
U.S. Muslims have been on edge in recent weeks, saying they are living through an intensely painful moment and feeling growing anti-Muslim sentiment after the Islamic State attacks in Paris and the San Bernardino, Calif., shootings, carried out by a Muslim husband and wife. Last week, Donald Trump — the GOP presidential front-runner — called for a “total and complete” ban on Muslims entering the United States.
Murab said his son is fine and has returned to school.
It was unclear Monday whether the seventh-grader was still in custody. The juvenile justice center would not release information because he is a minor.
When The Post called a number listed for the seventh-grader’s mother, she claimed she didn’t know anything about the accusations.
Vandalia-Butler City Schools said in a statement that an expulsion hearing will be set for a later date; police said a court hearing will also be scheduled.