Fayetteville, N.C. — A Louisiana teenager accused of going online last week and threatening to kill students at a Fayetteville high school has been arrested on a charge of terrorizing the public, the St. Charles Parish Sheriff's Office in Hanhnville, La., said Wednesday.
The 14-year-old boy from St. Rose – about 20 miles west of New Orleans – was arrested Tuesday after an investigation found that he allegedly went into a chat room and then to Twitter to find the names of Pine Forest High School students.
He then, naming some of them, posted on an educational social media site, investigators said, that he planned to "shoot up the school" on Monday and then kill himself.
"There doesn't appear to be any evidence that he's ever been to North Carolina," Capt. Pat Yoes with the St. Charles Parish Sheriff's Office told WWL-TV in New Orleans. "It gave the appearance that he knew people there and that he was part of that school."
The teen's father turned him in Sunday after finding out about the threat, which the boy said was a joke that got out of hand.
"He said he wanted to see the type of reaction he would get from it. I don't think this is quite the reaction he thought he would get," Yoes said. "It's actually a lot easier than people think to track down comments made on the Internet."
The boy was being held Wednesday at a local juvenile detention center, they said.
The threat, on the site Edmodo, prompted the school to cancel a homecoming dance Saturday night. About 40 percent of the school's students were absent Monday, despite the presence of additional security at the school.
Cumberland County Schools administrators said Monday that a security breach contributed to the hoax.
Edmodo allows students to correspond with classmates and teachers, but the school has more control of the content than on Facebook or other social media sites.
Superintendent Frank Till said teachers assign a password to each student, but the passwords weren't secured, which allowed the teen to obtain access to the system.
Mark Witt said he notified school administrators of the threat late Friday after his daughter, a Pine Forest senior, told him that someone was posting items on Edmodo using her name.
"The stuff that was on there was originally harmless," Witt said, noting graphic posts soon followed. "He was sending all kinds of porn pictures – really graphic porn pictures– also pictures of mutilated bodies."
The teen posted hundreds of messages over several hours to the Edmodo site and used as many as 20 screen names, Witt said.