PRESTON, Idaho (AP) — Authorities are investigating reports a teacher fed a sick puppy to a snapping turtle in a rural Idaho town that was the setting for the teenage cult classic film “Napoleon Dynamite.”
The uproar has forced police to step up security amid threats at Preston Junior High School and other schools in the district following the incident that reportedly occurred on March 7 in front of several students after school.
Investigators are looking into possible animal cruelty charges. The teacher has not been named by authorities.
Preston Police Chief Mike Peterson said Friday the threats were vague but linked to the allegation that the reportedly ailing puppy was fed to the turtle March 7.
“It was enough of a threat that our parents thought we ought to have a bit of a presence over there,” Peterson said.
He said two police officers and four Franklin County sheriff’s deputies were stationed at schools on Thursday that are normally patrolled by one sheriff’s deputy. The district doesn’t hold classes on Fridays, but officers may return to provide added security on Monday.
Peterson said the sheriff’s office has submitted its findings of the incident to Franklin County Prosecuting Attorney Vic Pearson. But Pearson said his agency has a conflict of interest and earlier this week forwarded the report to another prosecutor in the region that he didn’t name.
He said in a news release that the high volume of calls being received by law enforcement and his office was “hindering our ability to complete what needs to be done to reach the end goal of justice in this case.”
Franklin County Sheriff David Fryar didn’t immediately return a call from The Associated Press on Friday.
The Preston School District’s answering system said its mail box was full and not accepting messages. But in a previous statement, Superintendent Marc Gee said the district became aware of “a regrettable circumstance involving some of the biological specimens.”
The Idaho State Department of Agriculture on Friday said the turtle was euthanized because it’s an invasive species requiring a permit.
The 2004 film “Napoleon Dynamite” was set in rural Preston, which has a population of about 5,200. The film portrays a shy and unpopular teenager helping his friend run for high school class president.