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Watertown teen placed on probation after making school threats

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JUNEAU – A 17-year-old Watertown girl was found guilty Thursday of falsely reporting an emergency by sending a threatening Snapchat message telling people not to come to school last November.

Elizabeth Higgins entered a no contest plea to the felony count along with a misdemeanor count of resisting an officer. Dodge County Circuit Court Judge Joseph Sciascia accepted the pleas and adopted a deferred prosecutor’s agreement on the felony count and found Higgins guilty on the misdemeanor count. Sciascia withheld sentencing a placed Higgins on probation for a year.

Higgins must continue to engage in mental health counselling and treatment. She may not possess any weapons. She must maintain absolute sobriety. She must pay $250 to both the Watertown School District and Watertown Police Department.

According to the criminal complaint, Watertown Police became aware of the threat on the morning of Friday, Nov. 5 after an anonymous tip was made about a Snapchat photo. The photo showed three assault rifles in an open gun case with a caption that read, “yes do not come school tomorrow.” Police were able to determine that the message came from Higgins.

The school resource officer informed the school’s assistant principal and superintendent and Higgins was taken to the main office when she entered the school. According to the criminal complaint, several students were fearful of coming to school that day because of the Snapchat message. Higgins did not provide police with a lot of information, but said that she did not want to get friends in trouble. She said the photo was fake and it was not a legitimate threat and that the phone she was using was that of a friend.

Higgins’ phone was searched and a photo was found among her photos that was sent to the police department with the assault rifles and the Snapchat caption. The photo appeared to have been saved from a Google search. Higgins allegedly had searched “Gun Snapchat” on Thursday evening. Immediately after she searched the Watertown PD tip 411 number. The photo was also sent to multiple other students who attended the high school.

Follow Terri Pederson on Twitter @tlp53916 or contact her at 920-356-6760.

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