Criminal charges dropped in Eastern HS threat case
An Eastern York High School student who threatened to shoot up the school had his criminal charges dropped at his preliminary hearing, but his life in the short term has been drastically changed, his attorney said.
Brennen Michael Shenk, 18, of East Prospect, instead pleaded guilty to summary disorderly conduct and was ordered to pay about $320 in fines and fees, according to court records.
Summary citations are akin in seriousness to traffic tickets.
Shenk will be allowed to graduate, according to attorney Chris Ferro.
"But I doubt he'll return physically to the school," Ferro said. Instead, the senior will likely be home-schooled.
"I don't believe he's going to be able to walk with his class (at graduation) or go to prom," the attorney said. "I think schools are taking these things very seriously, and there's not much margin of error with this subject matter."
The background: Lower Windsor Township Police said Brennen was overheard Feb. 26 telling friends he was going to bring two rocket launchers to the high school and blow it up.
He was charged with three counts of making terroristic threats and one count of misdemeanor disorderly conduct, all of which were dropped at his preliminary hearing on Thursday, March 22, before District Judge John H. Fishel.
Police said a fellow student overheard Shenk threaten to shoot up the school while in the lunch line and said other students heard him say he would bring in rocket launchers.
Shenk's mother told police there were no guns in their home, court documents state.
At Shenk's hearing, the prosecution was unable to provide the court with anyone who said they felt threatened by Shenk's statement, Ferro confirmed.
For Shenk to have been guilty of making terroristic threats, someone would have had to feel threatened by what he said, according to Ferro, and there was no such testimony.
'No intent to harm': "I'm very glad the judge ruled in my client's favor," Ferro said. "This is a good young kid who made an ill-timed statement around a group of buddies, with no intent to harm or scare anyone."
Being charged with serious criminal offenses has completely changed Brennen's life, the attorney said.
"He could not have picked a worse time in American history to make a bad joke around friends," Ferro told The York Dispatch. "I'm just happy — now that it's over and common sense has prevailed — that he can learn a valuable lesson and get back to the normal life he lived before this unfortunate situation happened."
Eastern York School District officials sent out a letter to parents stating students and staff were never in danger.
— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.