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Student charged over Snapchat video with threatening caption

January 7, 2019
This is an undated handout photo of 18-year-old Jason Bowen provided by the Butler County Prison in Butler, Pa. Police say the western Pennsylvania high school student was arrested after posting a Snapchat video of himself shooting a gun with a caption reading "Training for Prom Walk." According to WPXI-TV, a criminal complaint says the video showed Bowen, of Middlesex Township, firing multiple rounds from an assault rifle. (Butler County Prison via AP)

SAXONBURG, Pa. (AP) — A Pennsylvania high school student accused of posting a Snapchat video of himself shooting a gun with a caption reading “Training for Prom Walk” has been arrested.

The video showed 18-year-old Jason Bowen, of Middlesex Township, firing multiple rounds from a semi-automatic, AK-style rifle, according to a police criminal complaint. It’s not clear when the video was made.

The complaint also said a separate Instagram photo showed a man resembling Bowen giving a thumbs-up in relation to the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, according to the complaint. A gunman killed 20 first-graders and six educators at the Connecticut school on Dec. 14, 2012.

Bowen was charged Monday with terroristic threats, prohibited offensive weapons, use or possession of drug paraphernalia and causing catastrophe.

A search of Bowen’s room uncovered brass knuckles and drug paraphernalia, police said.

He was jailed Monday in the Butler County Prison in lieu of posting $25,000 bail, according to court records. Bowen is scheduled for a preliminary hearing Jan. 16.

His lawyer, David Shrager, said Monday he understands why police and school district officials were concerned about the images on social media, but said Bowen just made a bad, unfunny joke that doesn’t rise to the level of a crime.

“We are all aware of the serious nature of these types of statements and tragedies that have befallen parts of our country,” he said. “We must still balance caution with rational thought and analyze each case on facts and not through fear.”

The South Butler County School District said on its website that schools are on a modified lockdown Monday, but no threat remains against any students.

The 2,300-student district serves Clinton, Jefferson, Penn and Winfield townships and the borough of Saxonburg, about 30 miles (48 kilometers) north of Pittsburgh.

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