(April 12, 2019) Worcester County officials credited the bravery of Snow Hill Middle School students for alerting the Worcester County Sheriff’s Office last month about an active shooter plot which resulted in two juveniles being arrested and charged with conspiracy to commit first-degree murder.
The Worcester County Sheriff’s Office, Worcester County State’s Attorney and Worcester County Public School officials held a joint press conference today at the Government Center in Snow Hill to share details of an ongoing investigation launched on March 22.
Sheriff Matt Crisafulli said Worcester County Public Schools contacted law enforcement on March 22 about 4:30 p.m. after a group of Snow Hill Middle School students came forward with information regarding an active shooter plot that was quickly proven reliable.
“The threat was brought to the attention of school administrators by several brave eight-grade students,” he said. “The Worcester County Sheriff’s Office immediately responded and confirmed the threat was credible.”
Crisafulli said the Worcester County Bureau of Investigation was immediately contacted and responded to the scene to delve further into the matter.
“The investigation revealed the existence of a school shooting plot,” he said.
The Bureau of Investigation, which includes members of the Sheriff’s Office, Maryland State Police, Berlin Police and Pocomoke Police Departments, continued unraveling details throughout the night and made its first arrest in the case before sunrise, Crisafulli said.
“As a result of their investigative efforts a juvenile was detained at approximately 4 a.m. on Saturday, March 23,” he said.
Law enforcement officials continued digging up details of the plot which resulted in a second juvenile being arrested in the morning hours of Monday, March 25, he said.
“The State’s Attorney Office has charged both juveniles with conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and related offenses,” he said.
Crisafulli also noted the ongoing investigation has involved numerous interviews, search warrants, subpoenas and seizures of multiple pieces of evidence.
“Evidence recovered from both suspects residencies include materials referencing a prior nationally covered school shooting event, as well as plans relating to a school shooting at Snow Hill Middle School,” he said. “Evidence uncovered revealed this plot has been several months in the making.”
Crisafulli also stressed investigators are confident any threat to Snow Hill Middle School has been contained.
“Our continued investigation has not revealed any indication that any weapon or destructive device was actually brought onto school property,” he said.
Crisafulli shared heartfelt gratitude for the heroic actions of alarmed students.
“What could have been a tremendous tragedy was prevented by the actions of the brave young eight-grade students who had the fortitude and courage to step forward and relay their concerns and fears,” he said. “These students are true heroes and they are to be applauded for their actions.”
Worcester County Public Schools Superintendent Lou Taylor echoed those sentiments
“We are here first and foremost today to honor the bravery of several young people who prevented what otherwise could have been a tragic event at Snow Hill Middle School,” he said. “These heroic students came together as a group to report to school officials what they knew of the pending threat.”
Taylor also extended gratitude to Crisafulli and State’s Attorney Kris Heiser as both offices teamed with school officials to navigate uncharted territory.
“There are no current threats to our school as a result of this incident,” he said.
Taylor also said school officials have coordinated with local and regional agencies to offer trauma counseling for students and staff.
“We encourage those touched by this incident to seek out and take advantage of those resources,” he said.
Worcester County Sheriff Chief Deputy Mark Titanski asked for the public to respect the privacy of all involved parties as the investigation continues to wind down.
Taylor, while acknowledging more work remains to be done to maintain secure classroom environments, said the recently uncovered shooting plot proves the system works.
“As you witnessed here today speaking out with concerns or suspicions can be lifesaving,” he said. “If you see something [or] hear something, say something, it truly works.”