Student charged with inducing panic
16-year-old Pearson tells police he's 'crazy'
Gahanna officials said they would rather be safe than sorry, concerning actions that were taken after a high school junior caused a scare among students and parents through social media over Labor Day weekend.
Sixteen-year-old Spencer Pearson was arrested by Gahanna police Sept. 3 and charged with a delinquency count of inducing panic after he allegedly posted a disturbing video on YouTube and made inflammatory tweets to Lincoln High School students.
He spent the night of Sept. 3 at the Franklin County Juvenile Detention Center before being released to his parents the following day.
Mayor Becky Stinchcomb told Gahanna City Council the city had taken precautions to protect students.
Although she heard comments that the city's actions were "overkill" or limited freedom of speech, Stinchcomb said, she'd rather err on the side of safety than to risk being wrong.
The Columbus Division of Fire/Bomb Squad conducted a complete sweep of the high school building Sept. 4 and found nothing, said Michael Straughter, district public-information manager. As a precaution, Superintendent Francis Scruci said, additional random checks were conducted last week.
In the arrest report, Pearson told police he began harassing students via a Twitter account he had created under the handle, Anonymous Ruler.
He said he didn't have a particular group of students he wanted to harass so he picked people randomly.
After several hours of communication with various students, Pearson said, he then posted a YouTube video that showed a masked character from the movie, V for Vendetta, with a computer voice-over.
Pearson initially said he created the Twitter account and video because he was mad at his mother. Later, however, he said it was because Lincoln students always complain about insignificant issues. He said he wanted students to have something important to worry and talk about.
When police detective Chad Cohagen asked Pearson if he had ever thought of doing a school shooting, Pearson said he had never thought about it. But he provided an immediate answer and details of how he could accomplish a school shooting.
Pearson told police he would never hurt anyone and that it's impossible to get a gun. He said he didn't know anyone who currently owns a gun.
When Cohagen asked if Pearson would bring a gun to school if he could acquire one, he said he wouldn't because the risk wouldn't be worth it.
Pearson said he's the type of person who weighs risk versus reward.
He said he could never hurt himself, but he would need someone else to accomplish it. Pearson said he wanted to die like a hero.
When Cohagen asked Pearson his definition of a hero, he hesitated and began to cry.
Pearson said it would be like being a police officer in that sometimes you have to hurt someone so they won't hurt other people.
He said he wouldn't hurt someone like a bully because bullies really don't know what they're doing.
Pearson mentioned that some people purposely hurt others, indicating those are the people that would be hurt.
Cohagen asked Pearson why he had showed so much emotion when he brought up the word, hero.
Pearson said he cried because he is "crazy." He said he sometimes is so overwhelmed with emotion that he can't control. For example, Pearson said, even though he was crying during the police interview, he didn't feel.
He also said he gets chills every time he sees the number 13.
When Cohagen asked Pearson if he considered himself to be dangerous, Pearson did not answer the question and became quiet.
Pearson told police he was trying to figure out how to show them he was dangerous.
When Cohagen asked Pearson if he liked the idea of being considered dangerous, Pearson just smiled. He told police he wanted to be arrested so he wouldn't have to attend school on Tuesday.
As he was being arrested, the police report stated, Pearson was smiling.
Straughter said Pearson would be provided due process prior to any school punishment, expulsion, dismissal or other disciplinary action, regardless of any judicial action.
The district's policy about bullying and other forms of aggressive behavior states harassment, intimidation or bullying toward a student is strictly prohibited and wouldn't be tolerated.
The policy defines harassment, intimidation or bullying as any intentional written, verbal, electronic or physical act that a student or group of students would exhibit toward another, causing mental or physical harm that creates an intimidating, threatening or abusive educational environment for other students.
If the school investigation finds an instance of harassment intimidation and/or cyberbullying by an electronic act, the policy states, the student may be suspended or expelled.