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PORTAGE — A Portage High School student who was arrested Wednesday for allegedly threatening to "shoot up the school" told police he is affiliated with a gang and had previously been incarcerated in Minnesota.

The 15-year-old boy allegedly made threats of gun-related violence directed at the school during a verbal disturbance in gym class, according to a police report.

The teen told police he had made the threats at Portage after a group of kids in the class were "picking on him," hit him with a ball and he became angry.

The teen had also been in a verbal argument with his gym teacher regarding showing gang colors in which he allegedly refused to remove when told to do so.

The threats prompted immediate response from the school and police department resulting in the teen being arrested on charges of intimidation and disorderly conduct. He was transported to the Porter County Juvenile Detention Center.

It also prompted police to have extra security at the school on Thursday because "the social media machine is now claiming that a student is coming to shoot up the school tomorrow," Portage Police Chief Troy Williams said Wednesday evening.

According to the report released Thursday morning, the teen told police he had recently moved from Minnesota to Portage, where he was a member of the Crips street gang, and had had thoughts of shooting up his school there, but never made any plans or attempts to follow through. He allegedly told police he had been incarcerated in a juvenile detention facility there for eight or nine months for running away.

The teen's mother was interviewed by police and allegedly told them he wore gang colors in Minnesota, but that she had thrown away all of that clothing and had begun wearing the Crips colors when he learned his father and uncle were involved in the street gang. 

She also told police her son does not have access to gun and that there are no guns in their home.

Portage High School staff and the school resource officer responded swiftly and appropriately once they learned of the threat, Williams said, adding the student did not have any weapons in his possession and did not pose a substantial threat to the students or staff. 

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Public safety reporter

Lauren covers North Lake County government, breaking news, crime and environmental issues for The Times. She previously worked at The Herald-News in Joliet. She holds a master’s degree in Public Affairs Reporting.

Porter County reporter

Joyce has been a reporter for more than 38 years, including 23 years with The Times. She covers municipal and school government in Valparaiso and Portage.