The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

December 21, 2012

Homeless man arraigned in threats against Point Township school

By Francis Scarcella and Rick Dandes
The Daily Item

— NORTHUMBERLAND - A 37-year-old homeless man was arraigned Thursday night and held on $125,000 bail after being charged with making mass casualty threats of violence to Priestley Elementary School.

Jeremy Michael Church, 37, who only has a mailing address of 249A W. Market St., Middleburg — his mother’s house — was charged by police with two felony counts, each carrying maximum fines of $15,000 and seven years in prison — one for making terroristic threats against the elementary school and the second for terroristic threats to cause public inconvenience.

A third charge, a misdemeanor, was the result of allegedly making terroristic threats against the mother of his child, Valerie Eisenhuth. That child is a student at Priestley Elementary School, and she was at school when the threats were apparently made, according to her mother.

The misdemeanor charge carries a maximum fine of $10,000 and five years in jail.

It all began around 11:20 a.m., when a woman called the school and asked to pick her child up because her ex-boyfriend said he was going to come to the school and kill the child, Shikellamy Superintendent Pat Kelley said.

The caller, Eisenhuth, then called 911 and said the man was going to kill her and the child, and 911 dispatched police within seconds of the call, police said.

The threats brought officers from nearly every Valley police department as well as concerned parents and relatives swarming to the Priestley Elementary School after the school was informed of “serious threats” to the children inside.

The scramble to the school on 16th Street in Point Township began. Priestley Elementary School, which has 452 children, immediately went on lock-down and minutes later the entire Shikellamy School District followed. Police blared sirens as they rushed to the school to meet an already waiting group of concerned parents, who had been blocked from going near the school.

Kelley said he was at the Priestley within minutes of the initial call, and children were told they were being put on lock-down and to follow the instructions given to them.

“This was at lunch time and students inside the cafeteria went to an area that is not by any windows,” he said. “Children in classrooms were also guided away from any windows. Our staff did a great job.”

Parents raced to the school to see what was happening.

“This will not happen here,” a man said as he stood by police. “We won’t let this happen.”

The man was referencing the killing of 20 boys and girls and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

Church, according to a statement to police by Eisenhuth, referenced the Connecticut school as one of a series of threats she claims he made to her over the phone.