Attorney for teen in Franklin Senior High School threat case: 'She used poor judgment'

FRANKLIN, Ohio -- The attorney for a teen girl accused of threatening to shoot her classmates at Franklin Senior High School said his client may have "exercised poor judgment" but he's not sure she ever intended to hurt anyone.

On Wednesday morning, the 15-year-old appeared before a juvenile court judge on a felony charge of inducing panic because of an alleged incident that took place at the school on E. Fourth Street in Franklin.

The court appearance came a day after the girl allegedly told five other students that she wanted to conduct a mass shooting, and "end it with suicide by cop," according to Chief Russ Whitman of the Franklin Division of Police. She was arrested without incident shortly after 2 p.m. Tuesday.

“It might turn out that this is a case of someone exercising poor judgment and saying something at an inopportune time,” said Rob Kaufman, the girl's attorney, said in court. “It's kind of like walking through an airport and making a joke about bombs.”

While the a caseworker painted a picture of a girl who has struggled in school, been suspended multiple times and dabbled in drugs, Kaufman contends his client is a good kid.

"She's a sophomore at Franklin and up until now she's had good attendance, she's had decent grades, she doesn't have any history of violent offenses or behavior," Kaufman said.

Investigators found no weapons on school property, but they don't believe that makes the situation any less serious, according to Whitman.

"We don't believe there was a threat to any of the students, but we're proud of the students who did come forward to either get this girl the help she needs or to prevent a disaster," he said.

He believes no attack was likely, despite the threats made.

"We're not taking any chances," Whitman said.

District officials told WCPO they recently completed training for school violence, and were glad students reported the potential danger.

"Whether you believe there's a real threat or not, you have to take it seriously," said Dr. Michael D. Sander, superintendent of Franklin City Schools. "You never want to take the chance of thinking someone's just talking and be wrong. You can't afford to be wrong."

The girl is scheduled to be back in Warren County Juvenile Court on Sept. 4 for a detention hearing. She'll undergo drug and mental health assessments before then.

Her legal guardian is one her aunts. The woman will have to come up with a written custody plan to make sure the girl has all-day supervision if the court decides to let her go home.

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