Story by: Jenna Jones, Opinions Editor

There is cause for alarm in Fort Wayne, Indiana following the murder of three young men late last month. The murders, which have yet to be solved or even have an identified motive, are a mystery that is frightening many of those within the community.

Mohamedtaha Omar, Adam Mekki, and Muhannad Tairab–ages 23, 20, and 17 respectively–were shot and killed in what is known as “execution style” in an abandoned house that has been connected to local gang violence in the past. The three boys had no connection to any gangs in the area, which has caused friends and family of the boys to consider other motives for the murders.

Investigators of the murders do not believe the murders were a hate crime, but the community is not convinced. Last year a similar murder of three Muslims occurred in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and citizens in Fort Wayne have taken to social media to spread awareness of the murders, using the tag #OurThreeBoys.

There has been controversy surrounding the issue, especially in regarding it as a hate crime. All three of the boys are not originally from the United States, but only two of them were Muslim.

Although the police force has stated that they do not believe the murders were carried out due to the religious beliefs or regional background, it is considered by many in the Muslim to have been a hate crime. Especially since the murder was carried out in the same way another was, despite the differences in location and time period.

Kahled Beydoun tweeted,

Poor & Working Class

These 3 men killed WED. We still know nothing.  #OurThreeBoys

Another concerned citizen under the name of falasteenia98 tweeted, “Chapel Hill is a hate crime. Fort Wayne is a hate crime. All 6 were shot execution style because of their faith. #FortWayneShooting.”

Earlier this year in Plainfield, the Islamic Society of North America’s mosque had been vandalized, striking fear into the surrounding communities. The possibility of this being a hate crime could cause issues within and around Indiana’s Muslim and Middle Eastern populations.

Man behind last year’s bomb threat sentenced

Story by: Claire Dorsch, Features Editor
Photos by: Elizabeth Miller, staff photographer

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On March 20th of 2015 at 10:30 a.m., a man by the name of Matthew Irwin, 30, made the students and faculty at Mt. Vernon High School feel unsafe in their own building by phoning in a false bomb threat to the school office and robbing Fortville Bank.

Students from the high school and eighth grade academy, who were in the midst of taking finals, were instructed to move to the two nearest buildings.

Irwin has since been sentenced to five years and received 278 days of credit for time already served, which is lower than the 10 years average sentence for bank robbery and up to 25 years for making a bomb threat. He was charged with robbery, false informing, conspiracy to commit robbery, intimidation and being a habitual offender.

Irwin’s accomplice, Brittany Krieg, 20, of Anderson, also faces counts of false informing, conspiracy to commit robbery and intimidation.

Since his bomb threat nearly a year ago, there has been another bomb threat on Mt. Vernon, which took place during the first nine weeks of the school year.

Plainfield and Avon have also received bomb threats. Both were dismissed as non-credible, but both schools were shut down for the day as a precaution. Many schools in Ohio have also received bomb threats as well in the past month.

“I think that the increase in threats made to schools has to do with the publicity of the threats,” said Braydon Titley, 10. “People who want to harm schools see how big of a reaction [the schools] make so they take advantage of that.”

The police of Fortville have done their best to help the school deal with the recent threats.

bank robbery“I appreciate all of the help from the citizens and businesses in both communities and the hard work of the dedicated officers of the Fortville Police Department, Anderson Police Department, Madison County Sheriff’s Office and the officer’s assigned to Community Hospital,” said Lieutenant Patrick Bratton of Fortville Police. “We had overwhelming community support with the tips and just kept following up on them until it led us to our suspects.”

The students and staff of Mt. Vernon are also beginning to wonder if the threats are results from spikes of violence or if school corporations are taking threats more seriously.

“The last two years have been a bit unusual as we went some 2-3 years without any threats to the general student population,” said Principal Bernie Campbell about the topic of the increased amount of threats made on MVHS. “On the surface I do not see any common threads, but with the increased use of social media, there are more opportunities for students to make reckless and dangerous comments. Secondly, students have grown much more responsible about reporting threats to an adult.”

The suggestion that students are getting better at reporting potential threats may be a the reason for the entire country seeing an increase in threats

These kinds of occurrences are happening all over the country. Twenty-six schools in New Jersey have received bomb and shooting threats in the past two weeks, so have fifteen in Massachusetts and three in Iowa.

These increased occurrences could be linked to students and other members of the community becoming less careful with their words or more knowledgeable in the fact that these threats are taken so seriously that the school can give students permission to stay home that day with a parent’s or guardian’s permission.

Over six-hundred students stayed home because of the most recent threat made to Mt. Vernon. There was a shooting threat made on Friday, January 15. Bags and backpacks were checked upon students’ arrival on Tuesday, January 19. There was a heavy police presence in the building, but thankfully the student responsible was taken into custody and confessed.