The 14-year-old Lusher student arrested Monday morning on terrorizing charges after a weekend-long hunt for him had threatened to “shoot up the school” at the end of last week, and he had access to guns found throughout his father’s home, New Orleans police said Monday afternoon.
Wyatt Johnston, 14, told other students at Lusher High School on Thursday that he was going to “shoot the school up” on Friday, said NOPD Second District Commander Shaun Ferguson in a news conference Monday afternoon. The students reported it to school authorities, who in turn notified police the same day, Ferguson said.
“It was no specific threat toward anyone,” Ferguson said. “He just stated to several students that he was going to shoot up the school, and of course we have to react very quickly when we hear reports of incidents like this.”
Police tried to find Johnston to arrest him on charges of terrorizing several times overnight, but they could not locate him, Ferguson said. Th boy’s father, 52-year-old Arthur Johnston, initially said he would turn his son in to police on Friday, but then on Friday told officers that he would not cooperate and warned police to stay away from his home as well, Ferguson said.
“The father made a statement to our officers to not come on his property, or something would happen,” Johnston said. “Something would happen to our officers if they set foot on his property.”
When they obtained a search warrant for his home, officers found multiple guns — “several handguns, rifles and shotguns” — inside that the boy would have had access to, Ferguson said, as well as a small amount of marijuana. The weapons were found throughout various rooms of the home, including air rifles in Wyatt Johnston’s bedroom, Ferguson said.
“They were throughout various rooms within the house,” Ferguson said. “Two air rifles were in fact in his bedroom also.”
After unsuccessful efforts to locate the father and son over the weekend, the teen’s mother turned him in to police on Monday morning, and the father surrendered in the presence of his attorney shortly afterward, Ferguson said. Many Lusher parents questioned whether to send their children to school on Monday with the student who made the threats still at large.
“It triggered a lot of repercussions behind this with regards to parents and students not feeling safe,” Ferguson said. “Unfortunately, some kids did not go to school this morning as a result of this.”
Police do not know the motive behind Wyatt Johnston’s threats, Ferguson said, but believe he was acting alone. Ferguson specifically praised the Lusher students who swiftly reported the initial threats.
“We see what has been going on across the country, so we cannot take incidents like this very lightly,” Ferguson said.
Arthur Johnston is charged with terrorizing, illegal possession of weapons in the presence of drugs, possession of marijuana, and possession of drug paraphernalia, and his bond was set at $47,750 in a magistrate court hearing Monday, according to online court records. He no longer appeared in the online jail register by Tuesday morning, indicating that he has been released on bond.
To watch the news conference live, see the video above.