Hundreds of children were frightened needlessly Tuesday, with some of them aware of a threat by someone claiming to be ready "to start killing people." For the foreseeable future, the tension at their schools will be heightened by armed guards.
Is this the justice hundreds of protesters have demanded in Steubenville?
Of course not. But at least one lunatic is more interested in havoc than justice.
Controversy over charges two Steubenville High School students raped a 16-year-old girl last summer seems to be tearing at the very fabric of the community. The authorities say they plan to prosecute the two boys and are continuing to investigate whether others were guilty of crimes.
But on the Internet and in large public demonstrations, hundreds of people have accused law enforcement officials of everything from incompetence to engaging in a coverup.
Public protest is part of the foundation of our freedom and security, of course. Those questioning how the rape case has been handled have every right to ask questions and demand answers.
But on Tuesday someone - perhaps a person involved in the protest or maybe someone unconnected and with an entirely different agenda - went too far. Way, way too far.
Police were alerted by a Steubenville student of a threat posted on the Facebook social networking system. It referred to people involved in the rape case but not charged with crimes and insisted they be gathered at a certain location or "I am going to start killing people."
Schools in Steubenville were immediately "locked down" while police investigated. While they were unable to identify the culprit, they determined the schools were safe.
Later, city school district officials decided that, because much of the focus of protests has been Steubenville High School, something needed to be done to ensure the safety of children at all four schools in the community.
Until further notice, then, armed guards will be posted outside each of the schools.
Law enforcement officials should make it a priority to track down the source of the threat made Tuesday. The person or persons responsible should be punished severely.
Anyone - regardless of how he or she feels about the rape investigation - able to help identify the source of the threat should be eager to help do so. It is important that justice be done in Steubenville.
Scaring children isn't justice.