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Child found dead in River Falls school; unrelated threat follows

River Falls police responded Monday, March 19, to Meyer Middle School, where an 11-year-old girl was found dead. File photo

The River Falls school community was shaken Monday by two separate events, one involving a student’s death at Meyer Middle School and another resulting in a student’s arrest.

Superintendent Jamie Benson sent an automated voice message March 19 to families in the district confirming the death of a sixth-grade student.

“The death of any young person is a loss that, in one way or another, affects us all,” he said in the recorded message.

Authorities were called at about 3:30 p.m. Monday to the middle school for a 911 report of an unresponsive student. The child, an 11-year-old girl, was found dead, according to River Falls police.

River Falls Police Chief Gordon Young said the death was being investigated by his department and the Pierce County Medical Examiner’s Office. The death did not appear criminal in nature, he said.

Benson did not return a call Tuesday morning seeking confirmation on the nature of the death.

Grief counselors were available Tuesday at the middle school.

Benson alerted families for a second time Monday night about a suspicious Instagram post made by a River Falls High School student that “created some concern.”

The post, which Benson said involved a photo of a gun, bullets and “a questionable comment,” was deemed not credible after River Falls police and the Pierce County Sheriff’s Office investigated the report. No accessible weapons were found at the student’s house, according to the superintendent.

“The police determined that this is an isolated incident and is not to be viewed as a credible threat,” Benson told families.

Pierce County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Jason Matthys on Tuesday identified the student as 17-year-old Cody A. Brown, who was arrested on suspicion of disorderly conduct. The River Falls resident was released from jail later that night, according to jail records.

Benson said Brown will not be allowed on school grounds until the investigation is complete. There was a heightened law enforcement presence at the high school on Tuesday “for added safety and security measures,” the superintendent said.

The district appreciates members of the public, parents and students reporting “such matters of concern,” he added.

The threat incident was “completely unrelated” to the middle school student’s death, Benson said.

Mike Longaecker

Mike Longaecker is a regional/enterprise reporter for RiverTown Multimedia. His coverage includes St. Croix County government, higher education and state politics in Wisconsin. 

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