Saturday, April 13, 2013

UPDATE: Meridian Teen Charged With Conspiracy With Australian Youth To Make Bomb Threats To Schools, Businesses

Posted By on Sat, Apr 13, 2013 at 3:57 PM

UPDATE 3:45 p.m. Saturday, April 13

Saturday afternoon, Ada County Sheriff's Deputies, in cooperation with officers from Boise and Meridian police departments and the FBI, arrested a teenager they say is responsible for orchestrating more than a dozen threats to Treasure Valley schools and businesses. Due to his age, the suspect's name is not being released.

Law enforcement said that on Wednesday, April 10 a threat of violence was called in to a Meridian high school. That was followed on Thursday, April 11 by a string of bomb threats made to schools in Boise, Caldwell, Kuna and Twin Falls. Similar threats were called in to businesses in Boise and Meridian that afternoon. On Friday, April 12, still more threats were called in to other locations. A total of 17 threats had been made by Friday afternoon.

"These [threats] went well beyond a hoax or prank to what I would call domestic terrorist threats," said Meridian Police Chief Jeff Lavey. "From the emotional strain on teachers, students and parents to the time and money expended by our officers and sales lost by businesses forced to evacuate, these threats take an incredible toll on our communities."

Ada County Sheriff's detectives say they received information on Friday, April 12 that led them to believe a Meridian teenager was responsible for initiating the threats. Deputies said they tracked the 16-year-old to his home in Meridian where they met with the teen and his parents Friday night.

Based on evidence gathered to date, investigators have confirmed that the 16-year-old and a teenage male in Australia worked together via online chats to make the threats. Detectives said the pair met through an online game chat room eight months ago. According to police, the two teens have admitted to making prank calls to restaurants and other businesses prior to this week's threats.

According to law enforcement, the Meridian teen provided the target locations and phone numbers to the Australian teen who then made the calls over the phone and through a computer network to the Idaho schools and businesses.

"While there is nothing to suggest that this teenager had the means to carry out these threats, it is clear that he intended to continue making the calls and had plans to escalate the impact of those calls by involving medical facilities," said Ada County Sheriff's Detective Sergeant Steve Bartlett.

Law enforcement has taken the 16-year-old into custody and booked him into the Ada County Juvenile Detention Center on charges of making a false report of explosives - a felony.

Meanwhile, Australian law enforcement in Orange, New South Wales, confirmed that the Australian teen could face criminal charges in his community.

"This is a great example of officers from multiple jurisdictions and even a foreign country sharing information and resources to manage a complex investigation and quickly take those responsible into custody," said Ada County Sheriff Gary Raney.

Law enforcement said the investigation is ongoing to determine if any other suspects was involved or if additional threats had been made. Additional charges are possible.

"Making a threat is a felony whether you are a juvenile or adult," said Raney. "We take these calls very seriously. Anytime a threat is made, we will find the people responsible and hold them accountable."

ORIGINAL POST: 9 a.m. Saturday, April 13

Treasure Valley law enforcement agencies say the FBI is likely to join the investigation into who is behind a series of bomb threats to several schools, businesses and one hospital on April 11.

A string of threats targeted a number of schools in Boise, Caldwell, Kuna, Nampa and Twin Falls in the late morning hours of April 11. Later that afternoon, bomb threats were called into at least three retail stores—Kohl's and Walmart in Meridian and a Boise area Target. That same evening, still another threat was called in to the St. Luke's Magic Valley Hospital in Twin Falls.

Meanwhile, additional bomb threats were called in Friday to Initial Point High School in Kuna, Eagle Academy and Eagle High School. Boise State University also received what law enforcement called a "non-specific bomb threat" on Friday.

Nampa Police Sergeant Mike Wagoner told the Idaho Press-Tribune that the investigation continues and when an arrest is made "a prison sentence is likely."

Meanwhile, Wagoner cautioned parents to keep their distance from schools when such threats are called in.

"We understand the concern for parents. I’m a parent, I’ve got several kids myself. If that kind of thing happens, you have to trust that the people who are there are going to take care of your child just like they’d take care of their own,” Wagoner told the Press-Tribune.

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