Police Make Arrest In Mel-Hi Phone Threats Case
By Space Coast Daily // May 12, 2014
16-year-old Canadian suspect arrested
According to Ottawa Police, Teenage Suspect Has Been Charged With 60 Criminal Offenses
BREVARD COUNTY • MELBOURNE, FLORIDA – Police in Ottawa, Canada arrested a 16-year-old male on Thursday, May 8, 2014, in connection with four phoned in threats that were aimed at Melbourne High School.
The first incident occurred on April 15 when the Melbourne Police Department received a call from the suspect who said he had placed a bomb inside the high school.
This first threatening phone call lead to a full evacuation of the school. It also lead to a police response that included multiple officers, explosive detecting K9’s and the Brevard County Sheriff’s Department helicopter. After an approximate three hour search of the school, no threatening devices were located.
On that same day, Melbourne police investigators discovered an individual on Twitter that was claiming responsibility for the threat at Melbourne High School.
Further investigation of this Twitter page revealed the person was claiming responsibility for other phoned in threats around the U.S. and Canada.
THREATS KNOWN AS ‘SWATTING’
These particular threats are known as “swatting.” In a “swatting” incident, a person will call in an emergency service phone call to a location when no actual emergency exists. This person will often “spoof” the phone number that is displayed to police operators so the actual origin of the call is difficult to detect.
With this information, Melbourne Police investigators began to contact other police agencies in Florida, California, New York, Maryland, Connecticut and Quebec that may have responded to hoax emergency calls made by this same individual. Since these threats were aimed at locations throughout the U.S. and Canada, the FBI was also called upon to assist.
On April 22, Melbourne police responded to Melbourne High School for an emergency call where the caller claimed he was armed with a knife and had just stabbed someone. This call turned out to be a hoax from the same individual that called in the bomb threat one week earlier.
On May 2, the same suspect called the West Melbourne Police Department and said he was armed with a gun at Melbourne High School. This time, the suspect demanded a large sum of money or he would begin shooting people at the school. This third call was also determined to be a hoax.
MEL-HI STUDENT ARRESTED, SOLICITED SUSPECT TO MAKE THREAT
The final incident occurred on May 7, when the suspect again called the West Melbourne Police Department and claimed he was on the Melbourne High School campus with a firearm. This incident also lead to the arrest of a Melbourne High School student who had communicated with the suspect on Twitter.
During their conversation, the student solicited the suspect to call in a threat at the school in order to not have to take a test. Shortly after that communication, police received the threatening phone call.
During the times these hoax calls were coming in, Melbourne police investigators monitored Twitter and other social media to keep track of the suspect.
Investigators also continued to communicate with the other law enforcement agencies that were affected by the suspect. Through a joint investigation, a suspect identification was established.
OTTAWA POLICE SEIZE TRANSMISSION DEVICES, FIREARMS
Last Thursday, Ottawa Police arrested the 16-year-old suspect, and also seized data transmission/communication devices and firearms from his home.
According to Ottawa Police, the teenage suspect has been charged with 60 criminal offenses that include Public Mischief, Mischief to Property, Utter Death Threats and Convey False Info with Intent to Alarm.
The Melbourne Police will now continue to work with the FBI to discuss any additional charges specific to the Melbourne High School incidents, and the possibility of investigative cost recuperation.
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