CADILLAC — The 17-year-old Cadillac teen who allegedly made threats against Cadillac High School and one of its student was arraigned Wednesday in 84th District Court.
After learning his birthdate, address, phone number, and other personal information, 84th District Court Judge Audrey Van Alst addressed Kaiden Alan George regarding the felony offense he was being charged with.
The Cadillac High School sophomore was charged with one count of schools — intentional threat to commit an act of violence against school, school employees or students with a specific intent to carry out or overt act toward, for his connection with an incident occurring on June 3 in Cadillac.
George appeared in front of Van Alst after spending the night in Wexford County Jail for his video arraignment wearing the same clothes he was arrested in, which included a black T-shirt with the Marvel character Deadpool on it and the words, “I’m sorry did I offend you?‘ written on it.
If convicted, George faces up to 10 years in prison and/or a $20,000 fine.
The charge is merely an accusation and not evidence of guilt. George is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law. The prosecution has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
During the brief arraignment, George requested a court-appointed attorney.
Van Alst laid out a few conditions for his personal recognizance bond that included George not being allowed on Cadillac Area Public Schools property, being placed under house arrest with a community corrections tether as well as no contact with a minor student who allegedly was directly threatened by George.
Wexford County Prosecutor Jason Elmore said the crime of threatening a school is when one communicates a threat to use an explosive device or weapon to commit an act of violence against students or school staff on school property, which is punishable by up to one year in jail. If the person had the specific intent to carry it out, Elmore said it becomes a 10-year felony. He also said the proof of that intent is the most essential element of these types of cases.
It, however, is different than a threat of terrorism which must meet specific conditions, Elmore said.
To be considered a threat of terrorism it must be an act of violence, the person knows it is dangerous to human life and the key element is that it is intended to intimidate or coerce a civilian population or influence or affect the conduct of government or unit of government through coercion or intimidation. That last element is what separates it from other crimes, Elmore said.
Cadillac Area Public Schools Superintendent Jennifer Brown said Tuesday the district was made aware of the threat Monday evening after a student came forward with information about George’s alleged threat. She did not go into detail about his alleged threat, but added it was “concerning and of a threatening nature.‘
After talking with the students involved Tuesday morning, Brown said it was decided to reach out to the Cadillac Police Department. She said George was not in school Tuesday as he was told to stay home. The threat was made verbally, according to Brown.
The high school and district were never put on lockdown Tuesday, but Brown said she would have authorized it being put into secure mode if the police hadn’t determined there was no immediate threat to the building or students.
Cadillac Police Capt. Eric Eller said the department was notified Tuesday morning of the possible threats made to the school. As a result, the department investigated, identified George as a suspect and arrested him for allegedly making the threat.
In a press release issued by the department Tuesday, Eller said the department takes any threats of harm to schools very seriously. He said officers immediately responded Tuesday to the school to assist with security while other officers investigated the threat and contacted George and parents.
Elmore said the city police responded quickly to the high school to address allegations of possible threats. Their quick investigation led to George’s arrest the same day.
In today’s world threats involving schools, students or workplaces are no joke and demand quick action, he said.
“A threat to commit an act of terrorism is very specific. We have charged the defendant with communicating a threat against a school. The defendant is presumed innocent at this time,‘ he said. “It is important for any person to whom threats are made to report those and allow law enforcement and the judicial system do their jobs.‘
Wexford County public defender Geoffery Harrison was in the courtroom but had no comment after George’s arraignment was completed.