LUDLOW, Mass. (WWLP) – One person has been arrested for an online threat that brought about an increased police presence at Ludlow schools Thursday. Police Chief Paul Madera said that police began their investigation after being notified by students about the anonymous threatening statement made on the social media site Yik Yak.
Police Lt. Daniel Valadas said that the threat, allegedly made by 18 year-old Matthew E. Kurtz of Ludlow, implied that a potential shooter would be coming to Ludlow High School on Thursday. He said that Kurtz is not a current student of the school.
Kurtz is being held on $1,040 cash bail and will be arraigned in Palmer District Court on Friday. Lt. Valadas said Kurtz will be transported by the Ludlow PD to court and his parents have been advised concerning his arrest even though he is an adult.
Police were able to track the suspect down by working with the legal staff at Yik Yak, Valadas said. Kurtz is being charged with threat to commit a crime, disturbing of a school in session, and making a false report relative to a firearm.
Superintendent of Schools Todd Gazda told 22News that that prior to the arrest, police had determined that the likelihood of any real danger was low, so the decision was made to keep the schools open, but with an increased police presence.
“We would not have had the buildings open if we thought that things were unsafe,” the superintendent said.
Parents of all school-aged children in Ludlow received a message about the threat through the district’s automated system. Gazda said that they wanted to be sure that parents knew the facts.
“The challenge comes that social media explodes things like this, and inaccurate information gets out there,” Gazda said. “We put out a statement to all parents to let them known the nature of this incident to make sure they had the accurate information.” Gazda added that a greater than average number of students did stay home Thursday.
Judy Ribeiro of Ludlow said the threat affected her best friends’ son, who had gone to school. “He called her to come and pick him up, because he was so scared. And she opted not to bring her son that’s in middle school to school today, keeping both boys at home,” Ribiero said.
Gazda said Thursday afternoon that he wanted to commend the Ludlow police for being able to quickly make the arrest.