LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — Even though most school threats turn out to be nothing, Kentucky prosecutors can still charge the person who makes the threat with a crime. Thanks to a new law, prosecutors have more tools to work with.
The threat of a school shooting alone can cause plenty of fear in a community, which is where criminal charges like terroristic threatening come into play.
"We just had a trial this summer. A young man with making threats to shoot up Dunbar High School. We had a trial in July and he was found guilty," said Lou Anna Red Corn, the Fayette County Commonwealth's Attorney.
Timothy Felker was recently sentenced to one year and six months in prison. Police said that back in February 2018, he threatened to shoot up Dunbar High School and kill certain students. They said he also bought an AR-15 and ammunition.
Red Corn told LEX 18's Karolina Buczek that if this had happened today, prosecutors could have charged Felker with a higher felony, because a new law is on the books and it enhances and more clearly defines penalties for these threats.
"Making the threat, 'I'm going to shoot up the school' is a D felony. Now, if you take a step towards actually doing that, buying ammunition, buying a weapon, body armor, things that one may use to make a bomb, it's now punishable by five to ten years," she said.
The law also allows prosecutors to charge people who make these types of threats toward other locations. Before, it applied to schools, but now, places of worship and any publicly advertised event is covered.
"Places like churches or Rupp arena during a concert or a fundraising event at the Carrick House - any of those kinds of places now would qualify to be punishable by one to five years," said Red Corn.