Police Investigate Online Threat Against West Michigan Teen
COOPERSVILLE, Mich. (June 3, 2014) – A 13-year-old girl in Ottawa County is sent a picture of a gun online and told to watch her back.
Now, administrators at Coopersville Middle School and deputies with the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Department are involved.
“He sent me a picture of a gun saying nobody blackmails my girlfriend and gets away with it,” Mariah Bysma, 13, said.
It’s a threat neither Mariah or her mom Judy Bylsma take lightly.
“I just want to hold her next to me; I just don’t want to let her go,” Judy said. “I even got an extra lock for her for the door so the doors can stay locked.”
Mariah says she received the message through Google Plus on Wednesday from a boy at her school.
It says “You better watch your back. I will hurt you. No one blackmails my girlfriend and gets away with it.” The message was accompanied by a picture of a black handgun.
Mariah says she was scared and didn’t want to go to school the next day so she faked sick.
Mariah says she’s been bullied all year, even put on antidepressants. She says when she told the Coopersville Principal about the message, she says he didn’t report it to police.
“I said ‘Why didn’t you tell me this sooner?’ and she said well the principal hasn`t done anything about bullying because people have been bullying her all year long and she thought it was useless,” Judy said.
The Ottawa County Sheriff’s Department says the student that sent the message has been suspended. They thoroughly checked his home and determined he has no access to weapons and that the picture of the gun was found online.
“I don`t know if the gun was real or not but it was scary and I`m afraid sometime he will just pop out of nowhere and kill me,” Mariah said.
School authorities say it happened outside of school so it’s a police matter and they’re taking the cautious approach and removing all students involved pending the investigation. An alert was sent to parents informing them of the situation.
Mariah doesn’t plan to return to school for the last few days, which is devastating for a young girl who just wants to fit in.
“I just want everyone, I want to get along with everyone and I just want to be friends, no bullying,” she said.
The Ottawa County Sheriff’s Department says they’re still investigating this case and plan to present it to the prosecutor this week to decide on whether or not charges will be filed.
Mariah’s family says they’re signing her up for self-defense classes.