While the news last week seemed to explode mid-day on Thursday with multiple bomb threats to local high schools, followed by threats to businesses including Target and Walmart in the afternoon, officials believe the string of hoaxed threats began sometime the day before.
On Wednesday a call was made to Meridian High School threatening violence. Around 11 a.m. on Thursday morning someone called Kuna High School along with Boise, Caldwell and Nampa High Schools and a school in Twin Falls with bomb and violence threats. On Friday, threats were made again to schools and businesses in Boise, Meridian, Kuna and Eagle.
In all, there were 17 threats made in Ada County alone. On Saturday, Ada County Sheriff’s deputies, in cooperation with officers from Meridian Police, Boise Police and Federal Bureau of Investigation arrested a 16 year-old Meridian teen who allegedly made these calls.
“These went well beyond a hoax or prank to what I would call domestic terrorist threats. From the emotional strain on teachers, students and parents to the time and money expended by our officers and sales lost by businesses forced to evacuate, these threats take an incredible toll on our communities,” said Meridian Police Chief Jeff Lavey.
According to a press release from the Ada County Sheriff’s department investigators have confirmed that a Meridian boy and a teenage male in Australia worked together via online chats to make the threats. “Detectives say the pair met eight months ago via online gaming. The two admitted to making prank calls to restaurants and other businesses prior to escalating the threats this week.”
“The Meridian teen provided the target locations and phone numbers to the teen in Australia who then made the calls, over the phone and through a computer network, to the schools and businesses in and around Ada County.”
“While there is nothing to suggest that this teenager had the means to carry out these threats, it is clear that he intended to continue making the calls and had plans to escalate the impact of those calls by involving medical facilities,” said Ada County Sheriff’s detective sergeant Steve Bartlett.
The 16-year-old was taken into custody Friday evening and booked into the Ada County Juvenile Detention Center on charges of making a false report of explosives – a felony.
Ada County detectives are working with Australian law enforcement officials in Orange, New South Wales who have identified the other teen. The boy could face criminal charges in his community.
Anyone with more information about these threats or similar incidents is urged to call non-emergency dispatch at 377-6790 or Boise Area Crime Stoppers at 343-COPS.