A joint investigation by FBI agents and detectives from the Nashville, Tenn. Metropolitan Police Department’s Specialized Investigations Division (SID) led to the April 16 overnight arrest of a South Nashville teenager suspected of originating electronic threats to schools in Tennessee and three other states, including threats made to the Whitman-Hanson Regional High School by email on April 13, and by phone on March 20.
The other Massachusetts schools involved are Brockton High School and Cardinal Spellman High School.
“At this time, we have been asked to direct any questions regarding these threats to the Boston office of the FBI,” W-H Superintendent of Schools Dr. Ruth Gilbert-Whitner said in a prepared statement. “We are delighted that a suspect has been apprehended.”
The teenager, who is a Nashville alternative school student, was booked on a state terrorism charge and spent the night in Metro’s juvenile detention facility. He was charged federally and was to appear before a United States magistrate judge the next day.
The teenager is suspected of originating multiple emails and telephone calls threatening violence to schools in Tennessee, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Virginia.
Ten email messages threatening violence were made to Metro Nashville Schools between March 16 and April 16. Thursday’s message directed to Antioch High School was so concerning that administrators dismissed classes at 9:45 a.m.
This investigation has been a priority for SID detectives and FBI agents over the past month, according to a statement by Nashville Police. It was made more complicated by the teenager’s efforts to mask his electronic footprint, which ultimately proved unsuccessful.
“Nashville area law enforcement takes threats of violence to schools and other institutions very seriously,” a Metropolitan Police spokesman stated. “Persons responsible will be arrested and prosecuted.”
The arrest was part of a joint investigation by the FBI Boston Division and detectives from the Metropolitan Police Department in Nashville. The Hanson, Whitman, Brockton and Quincy police departments assisted in the investigation along with the Massachusetts State Police.
“The FBI takes threats of violence to schools very seriously,” stated Vincent B. Lisi, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Boston Division. “Make no mistake we investigate these incidents and those found responsible are subject to arrest and full prosecution no matter where they are located.”