Suspect Identified in Internet Threat Case Against Charter High School

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03/19/14

 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                  March 18, 2014


POINT OF CONTACT:                                             Lieutenant Neal Griffin, 760-839-4444

 As has been previously reported, on January 16, 2014, a threatening message was posted on a social media website and directed against Charter High School in Escondido.  The message was reported to the Police Department by persons from throughout the country who viewed the message in a “chat room.”  The message included specific threats of violence that would occur at Charter High School in Escondido.  On January 17, because of the specific content of the message all activities at the Heritage Charter Schools in Escondido were canceled and a criminal investigation by Escondido Police Department was immediately initiated.  

This investigation, determined early on that the person to whom the message was attributed, a local Escondido teenager, did not send the message.  The investigation initiated by EPD involved extensive forensic computer analysis, seizure of evidence and witness interviews and led to a residence in Miami, Florida.  An EPD Detective with highly specialized training in computer forensics and computer related crime, is currently in Miami working in cooperation with the FBI Miami Cyber Task Force.  

It can now be reported that the person who sent the threatening message has been positively identified as a seventeen year juvenile who resides in the Miami area and has no affiliation with Charter High School or any student attending Charter High School.  At the time of this press release, this individual has not been arrested or criminally charged.  No other information related to the suspect will be released. This act, which could be characterized as an act of “cyber-bullying”, is also a serious federal crime, specifically 18 USC 875(c) which states:

Whoever transmits in interstate or foreign commerce any communication containing any threat to kidnap any person or any threat to injure the person of another, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.  

This joint investigation is continuing and issues regarding prosecution and jurisdiction are still being discussed.  The purpose of this press release is to announce the successful effort on the part of the Escondido PD, with the assistance of the FBI and other local Florida jurisdictions, in identifying the perpetrator of an act that impacted thousands of local families.

Escondido Police Chief Craig Carter has said, “We are extremely grateful to all the agencies that assisted in resolving this incident. I was confident from the beginning that our detectives had the training and skills necessary to identify the person who committed this crime.  We will always aggressively investigate cyber-crimes that target our community and when appropriate we will seek restitution for the financial impact.”