BILLINGS — In December 2022, a sophomore at Billings Senior High School was arrested and faced a charge of felony intimidation after sharing a photo to Snapchat of writing on a bathroom wall that was threatening a school shooting.
At the time, Kaleb Scott, now 16, admitted to taking the photo of writing he found in the bathroom that said, "Senior will get shot up December 8. Everyone will die." Scott added this caption to the photo: "That's crazy our school too now." He then shared the photo with the caption to his Snapchat story and went back to class. This came at a time when both Senior and West High were experiencing school shooting threats.
About an hour later, he was escorted out of the school gym to speak with Billings police officer Jeremy Boeckel, he told MTN News Wednesday in his first media interview since his arrest.
“It just felt like they wanted to put the blame on somebody. They wanted to make an example out of somebody, and I just happened to be that person,” Kaleb said.
Kaleb Scott was adamant that he did not write the threat, but his father, Aaron Scott, who was called to the school that day, said it felt like administrators were pressuring Kaleb to admit otherwise.
“When I got there, of course, the school administrators are telling him, 'Just say that you did it, it’ll go away. Easier if you say you did it.' No, he didn’t do it, why would he say he did it,” Aaron said. “The thing that bothered me, they say see something, say something. And we always tell him, if you see something that’s out of the ordinary say something. And he did just that, and it backfired. So that was a little disheartening.”
Kaleb was arrested that same day.
“As a father, probably the worst day of my life watching them take my child away,” Aaron said. “It was hard watching your son be accused of something that is not within his character. So, that was the hard part for me, that’s not my son.”
The arrest caused a large reaction from students that went to school with Kaleb.A petition was signed by over 1,000 people in 24 hours in support of Kaleb, which he said was a great thing to see happening.
“He’s always the first one to give somebody a helping hand, and he’s always the person that is trying to do the best for everybody,” Kaleb's mother, Cammy Scott, said.
The charges against Kaleb were dismissed without prejudice on June 28, 2023, and the case will be sealed when Kaleb turns 18.
This gave the family some relief after seven months of stress.
“I just want it to be over. I want the school to take accountability, and I want them to let him have his high school years back and enjoy it. And be a kid and not have to be constantly watching his back making sure he’s being perfect,” Cammy said.
Kaleb has chosen to return to Senior High for his junior year to get back to his friends and continue playing football and participating in track and field. Both of Kaleb's parents worry that the decision might come with more pressure.
“I’m worried about him getting through school. Don’t want him to be blamed for anything else," Aaron said.
Billings attorney Tyler Dugger represented Kaleb. He said he was skeptical about the case as soon as he read it.
“What he did certainly, in my view, was perfectly well protected by the First Amendment,” Dugger said. “From what I saw, there wasn’t any actual evidence that Kaleb had authored the note, which to me was very important.”
Yellowstone County Attorney Scott Twito didn't dispute that there was little evidence against Kaleb.
“That message in that bathroom, that was the critical crux that we didn’t think we could prove at trial. So, we rightfully dismissed the case against Mr. Scott,” Twito said.
It remains unclear who was behind the scrawled threat that Kaleb captured on Snapchat. In an interview with MTN News, Twito did not discuss the status of that case.
MTN News left a message with the office of Billings' current school superintendent, Dr. Erwin Garcia, but he did not return a call Wednesday. The newly hired Garcia was not with the Billings school district when Kaleb Scott was arrested. The superintendent at the time, Greg Upham, has since retired and could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
The Scotts can now attempt to get back to a normal life.
“Watching him go through, you know, being this outgoing young man, and all of a sudden he was having anxiety issues and pretty withdrawn, just not being himself. It was tough,” Aaron said.