A high school teacher in Iowa was arrested and charged with making terroristic threats. The teacher allegedly made threats of gun violence by leaving notes around Abraham Lincoln High School, police said. However, the teacher said she had no intention of carrying out the threats, but may have been attempting to bring attention to safety in schools, according to authorities.
Katrina Phelan, 37, reportedly turned herself in after a warrant was issued for her arrest.
“Council Bluffs police detectives conducted an investigation into a series of anonymous handwritten notes found inside the school, all making reference to committing gun violence upon school property,” a press release from the Council Bluffs Police Department read. “Each of the notes were reportedly either found in Phelan’s classroom or found by Phelan herself, in various locations within the school.”
Once the threatening notes were discovered, the school increased security.
The teacher allegedly penned threatening notes, where she pretended to be a bullied student.
“When interviewed, Phelan admitted to writing the notes,” police said. “It was determined that she had no intentions or means of carrying out these threats. In at least one of the notes, Phelan, posing as an unnamed student, wrote that she was tired of being made fun of.”
Citing the affidavit, KETV-TV reported, “Phelan admitted to writing three of the notes and said they were written on paper from her classroom. Police said she confirmed the handwriting on the note was hers, but couldn’t recall writing them.”
Phelan said she wrote the threatening notes “out of concern, worry, and frustration over the lack of control of her classroom,” according to the affidavit.
When investigators asked the teacher what she attempted to accomplish with the notes, Phelan allegedly responded that it may have been done to bring attention to her opinion that the school is “not a safe place.”
Phelan was charged with three counts of making “threats of terrorism,” which is a Class D felony punishable by up to five years in prison for each count.
Abraham Lincoln High School administrators sent the following email to the parents of the students, where they explained the gun violence hoax notes and noted that the school no longer employs Phelan:
The Council Bluffs Police Department has concluded its investigation into the threatening notes found at school a few weeks ago. They have determined the source of the notes to be a school employee. Investigators concluded there was no intent or means to carry out the threats. However, the employee has been charged with a crime, has voluntarily surrendered to the police, and will no longer be employed by the Council Bluffs Schools. We appreciate the detectives and their diligence in solving this crime.
During that investigation, students provided us with information that was helpful. This is what we expect from students at ALHS.
We want all students, parents and staff members to have confidence that our schools are safe and supportive environments.
Mrs. Bellows, Principal
Teacher arrested for ‘threatening notes’ found at Abraham Lincoln High School