Kent State student helps prevent threatened violent act at Pa. school


Zoë Burch, Kent State student, receives honors for her quick actions of notifying a potential threat of violence directed at a school in Pennsylvania. Zoë is interviewed by Daily Kent Stater reporter at Kent Student Center. Zoë’s parents Michele Burch and Dan Burch also attend the recognition event on Monday, July 22, 2013. Photo by Yolanda Li

Cheyenne Perry

Kent State student Zoë Burch was honored by local, state and federal authorities Monday for reporting a potential threat of violence directed at a high school in Pennsylvania. The threat was confirmed by authorities and the suspect was arrested.

Burch, who is going into her second year as an exploratory major, said she was in an online chat room when she saw a violent threat directed at the school. She reported the threat to Kent State Police, which led to involvement of Pennsylvania authorities and the FBI in Northeast Ohio and Pittsburgh.

Representatives from Kent State’s administration and police department, Pennsylvania State Police, Ohio Homeland Security and the FBI gathered in the Student Center to recognize and thank the Pittsburgh native for acting quickly when she saw suspicious activity on the Internet.

“It was a great thing to do,” said John Peach, Kent State Chief of Police. “We aren’t asking great things of people — just do the little things that result in great things.”

When Burch first saw the threat, she said she called her mother, who told Burch to call the police if she felt it was serious.

“It’s not one of those things that you take a lot of time to do,” Burch said of reporting the threat. “I think it’s our duty.”

Burch smiled as she accepted framed certificates from Kent State and Ohio Homeland Security. Pennsylvania State Police and FBI officers thanked her for the lives she may have saved by not being afraid to report what she saw.

Burch said she didn’t know about Ohio Homeland Security’s “If You See Something, Say Something” campaign.

“I just read the comment and decided to report it because it was frightening,” she said.

“The strong message we would like to get out is if anybody sees something they think is potentially dangerous […] notify the police department immediately,” Peach said. “We would rather deal with a report that has no merit […] than deal with a tragedy.”

Students can call the Kent State Police Department at 330-672-3070 or use the anonymous university tip line, ThreatLine, here.

“If you see something, say something,” Burch said. “It’s worth it.”

Contact Cheyenne Perry at [email protected].