By danny restivo
Charges of inducing panic against a Mathews High School student were dropped in municipal court Thursday.
Justin S. Westbay, 18, of Vienna, appeared in court for a preliminary hearing after police said he made remarks about a gun attack at the school earlier this month.
At Thursday’s hearing, Judge Jeffrey D. Adler told Westbay that Mathews schools Superintendent Lew Lowery had agreed to drop the charges, but he warned the 18-year-old about saying such comments in the wake of the Sandy Hook school shooting in Connecticut.
“You gotta watch what you say in school,” said Adler, “especially in the climate we live in right now.”
The senior was arraigned Jan. 9 on second-degree felony charges and had been under house arrest since.
Police said students walking in the hallway heard another student tell Westbay: “If you shoot up the school tomorrow, don’t shoot me.”
The students who overheard the remark told the school resource police officer and Lowery, who immediately investigated.
Westbay told school and police officials he had said to two other students that morning in the hallway that it “would be easy to have a school shooting; all you would have to do is go to the cafeteria in the morning and have two people at one door and one person at another door.”
Lowery said Westbay’s comments were mainly descriptions and not threats, but he would not have acted differently.
“Did I think they were threatening? No, but I thought they were wrong,” he said.
Adler said Westbay had undergone psychological and psychiatric evaluation and did not show any signs of mental instability, though he did note the teenager’s use of “poor judgment that’s not unusual” in people his age.
Lowery said the teenager was not expelled from school and was expecting him to return today. Adler also removed Westbay’s house arrest order.