FLORENCE, Ariz. (AP) — Two cheerleaders have been suspended from their schools and are under investigation by Arizona authorities after a “hit list” they created about students and a teacher they disliked was posted online, authorities said Wednesday.
The names of the two girls weren’t released, but authorities said one is an eighth-grade student at Walker Butte K-8 School and the other is a 10th-grader at Poston Butte High School, both in the Florence Unified School District, southeast of Phoenix.
The girls are suspected of posting the list on the social media site with an icon of a pistol next to the words “hit list,” according to the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office.
School district officials said the list contained the names of nine students who attend either Poston Butte or Walker Butte and one teacher from Poston Butte. None of their names were released by authorities.
The girls were interviewed by sheriff’s deputies and claim they created the list to name people they didn’t like, but they didn’t intend on harming any of them.
The sheriff’s office was notified of the situation at 6 a.m. Wednesday by district officials after a parent of one of the students on the list learned about it and emailed two district staff members.
The two girls have been suspended from school pending a hearing, said Dana Hawman, spokeswoman for the school district.
A district statement sent to all parents and staff Wednesday said neither girl has a history of disciplinary incidents, but “all threats are taken very seriously.”
Poston Butte has more than 1,700 students in grades 9-12. Walker Butte has nearly 1,000 students in kindergarten through 8th grade.
Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu said that upon completion of his staff’s investigation, his office will likely submit the case to the county attorney’s office for potential charges of threatening and intimidating filed against the two girls.
“With recent school shootings across the country, all possible threats of violence at schools are taken seriously by law enforcement,” Babeu said. “Parents are encouraged to talk with their children and explain the seriousness of making such threats.”