Wednesday, January 16, 2019 Elyria 30°

Cops and Courts

Police drop charges against Elyria High School student

  • Device-jpg

    Elyria police shared a photo of this device discovered in a search Monday.



ELYRIA — Criminal charges against a 15-year-old Elyria High School student who has been at the center of a series of bomb threats at the school have been dropped.

The sophomore, who had been charged with making terroristic threats and inducting panic, was ordered released from the Lorain County Juvenile Detention Home on Tuesday.

Elyria police Capt. Chris Costantino called the investigation “complex” and said police are gathering information about a social media post attributed to the teen and the threats made to the school May 22 and Monday.

He said it is possible the student, who county Juvenile Court Administrator Jody Barilla said has no prior criminal record, could be charged again in the future depending on what evidence the investigation turns up.

“We just want to step back and make sure we have all the evidence we need in order to support the charges,” Costantino said.

Kenneth Lieux, the teen’s attorney, said he commended the Elyria police for the thoroughness of their investigation and the decision to drop the charges against his client.

“At this point, he’s a scared kid,” Lieux said. “He was ‘swatted,’ and it got him arrested.”

The boy was first taken into custody May 22 after someone called Lorain County Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security and claimed to be the teen. The caller claimed to be holed up in a school bathroom with weapons and a propane tank he planned to detonate.

The school was placed on lockdown as law enforcement swarmed the building and launched searches that ultimately turned up no evidence of weapons or explosives. Students were released early from school that day.

The student was questioned by police and told them he was the victim of a group of online hackers who were upset when the boy refused to do something for them.

Police have said the teen told officers he was warned by the hackers they planned to “dox” him by releasing his private information online. The hackers also threatened to subject the student to a “swatting” hoax in which a fake emergency is reported, sending law enforcement to a particular address.

The teen was released after being questioned.

The second bomb threat was called in to Elyria police Monday, and the caller claimed to have planted bombs in trash cans on the Elyria High campus. The caller claimed to be a student upset about a bad grade and said he had a gun and other explosives he would use to “shoot up” the school Tuesday morning.

No explosives were found, and school opened Tuesday under a heavier-than-normal police presence.

As police were searching the school Monday, the teen allegedly posted an image on the photo-sharing application Snapchat of an electrical device with a caption that read “Say I won’t bring this (expletive) to school,” according to law enforcement.

There was also a picture of an airplane with the words “ALLAHU ALBAR” on each side posted. Another student saw the images and told a parent, who contacted police.

The student told police it was a coincidence that he posted the images on Snapchat at the same time the school was being searched, police have said.

Lieux said his client did post something online, but it was then taken out of context and altered by someone else.

“Someone took a screenshot, then added things to it and put it out to a wider audience,” Lieux said.

Elyria Schools spokeswoman Amy Higgins did not return a call seeking comment Tuesday, but she previously declined to discuss what, if any, punishment the student could receive because of the incidents.

Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or Follow him on twitter @BradDickenCT.

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