Helena School District investigating Capital High student over Snapchat video with firearm

HELENA – Helena School District leaders say they removed a Capital High School student from class Tuesday in response a video posted on the social network Snapchat, but they do not believe the video was an explicit threat of violence.

“It was not a direct threat to anyone at Capital High School – any student, any faculty members, any administrators,” said Helena Public Schools Superintendent Jack Copps.

Copps said administrators have viewed the video. He said it showed the male student displaying a handgun and asking questions about gun ownership.

“It’s a Second Amendment question of ‘If I own a firearm, does that mean that I’m a threat and may kill someone?’” said Copps. “That’s what was posted.”

Copps said the video was not filmed on a Helena school campus.

The district has formed a threat assessment committee to investigate the incident and determine what further action, if any, should be taken against the student. If they conclude there was no intentional threat, the student will be allowed to return to school.

In a statement Wednesday, leaders with the Helena Police Department said they are also aware of the post and that they have spoken to the student. They agreed with district leaders that there did not appear to be an immediate threat to the school or two other students.

The department will refer the incident to the Lewis and Clark County Attorney’s office for any possible charges.

Copps said the school district sent an email to Capital High parents to inform them of the incident. He said administrators also spoke to students about the issue Wednesday.

Copps said he understood there would be heightened concern about this type of incident after last week’s deadly shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

“We are grateful that people report these matters, however grave they may be or how unimportant they may even appear at this time,” he said. “We appreciate the fact that these matters are brought forward so that we can properly investigate them, to make sure that our student population is as safe as we can possibly make it.”