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British man jailed for Facebook threat
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The TBI has confirmed the man arrested Friday in Britain is believed to be the person who threatened to kill 200 students at a Warren County school.
Northumbria Police arrested Reece Elliott, 24, from South Shields on Friday on suspicion of making threats to kill.
Asked if this was in connection to the Facebook post pertaining to Warren County, TBI spokesperson Kristin Helm said on Saturday, “Yes, one of our agents today confirmed with UK authorities that he was charged with threats to kill and other related offenses of malicious communications.”
Director of Schools Bobby Cox said the TBI announcement brings him a huge sense of relief.
“The big question everyone was wondering is who did this,” said Cox. “Was it somebody local? Was it a student in our school system? I’m relieved it’s not one of our students. I know this puts a lot of people at ease. We’re never going to let down our guard, but maybe we can put this one behind us now and get back to normal on Monday.”
The anonymous post was made Wednesday on a Facebook memorial page. Out of fear a shooter might come to a Warren County school and open fire, 2,908 students were absent from school Thursday. The attendance rate greatly improved Friday with 863 students absent from Warren County schools.
Helm said the TBI’s cyber crime agents helped with the investigation, in addition to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
Local law enforcement officials said Thursday the online post had been traced to Europe, but there was difficulty confirming the IP address of the computer used to make the threat because several routers were used to bounce the transmission. After initially expressing optimism a person would be arrested in connection with the online post, local officials were sounding less confident late in the day Thursday.
It is not yet known whether prosecution will be brought in England, the U.S., or both.
A spokeswoman for Northumbria Police said: “At 2:12 p.m. on Friday Feb. 8, police received notification that a man had posted threatening information on Facebook. A 24-year-old man from South Shields has been arrested on suspicion of threats to kill and is currently in custody. The message is believed to have been posted on Wednesday. There is nothing to suggest it posed any physical threat to any school either here or in America.”