By William Kincaid
Three Fort Recovery students arrested Tuesday for allegedly threatening harm to other students were scheduled to be arraigned in Mercer County juvenile court this morning.
Mercer County Prosecuting Attorney Andy Hinders confirmed rumors of the arrests and said the three had been charged with inducing panic.
Hinders said if the judge determines the students are neither a danger to themselves nor the community, they will be released to their parents until a further trial.
Mercer County Sheriff Jeff Grey would not comment on the specifics of the ongoing investigation -- which is being conducted by both the sheriff's office and the Fort Recovery police.
Grey did say a single-shot shotgun was found as part of the investigation. However, the gun was neither loaded nor assembled, as the particular model in question can be taken apart. He said the type of shotgun found is commonly associated with rabbit hunting and there is no indiction that the gun was to be used for any other purpose. Grey also discredited rumors being spread at the school and in the community.
"There's not been any (hit) list or anything like that," Grey told The Daily Standard. He also said no drugs were found in the investigation.
Two of the students charged were arrested as they were walking to school, while the third suspect, who was driving, was pulled over and also arrested, he continued.
After being taken to the sheriff's office, Grey said the parents of the three students were contacted. The three teenagers were then given a detention hearing before being transported to two regional juvenile detention centers.
Hinders said two of the students were taken to the West Central Juvenile Detention Center in Troy, while the third was transported to the Wood County Detention Center outside of Bowling Green.
The teenagers were split up, according to Hinders, because of the limited space at the two institutions.
Grey said the Fort Recovery Police Department initially began the investigation after rumors began circulating in the community about students making threats against over students.
Grey said he received a phone call March 25 from someone concerned about the rumors. Grey contacted Fort Recovery Police Chief Maggie Hartings, Superintendent David Riel and high school principal Ed Snyder.
The sheriff's department, according to Grey, "was not actively involved, even lacked knowledge of it (the pending investigation)" until March 29, when Grey was officially briefed by Fort Recovery High School officials and the Fort Recovery Police.
On March 30, officers from Allen and Mercer County led a team of K-9 dogs through the hallways of the high school searching for "anything and everything," according to Superintendent David Riel.
But after searching the school for nearly an hour, nothing of signifigance was found.
"Our investigation is still going on," Grey told The Daily Standard on Thursday. "Right now, we want to run down what occurred. Then I want to, if possible, trace the original start of it. How did we get to where we are today? How did the rumors get started? Why would rumors get fueled through the school. We're looking back ... well beyond this school year. I don't think that we solved the problem simply by making an arrest."
Grey said the sheriff's department will try to take an objective look at the situation.
(We want to) "Make sure that we do things absolutely right and absolutely fair to the people who got arrested and to the people who didn't get arrested," he said.
"When we're done from a law perspective, (We hope it will) make us better."