Florida teen accused of hoax that closed North County schools

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ESCONDIDO, Calif. — A hoax online school-shooting threat that closed four affiliated North County charter schools for one day two months ago was perpetrated by a Florida teenager, authorities disclosed Wednesday.

The menacing statements appeared on a social media website Jan. 16, claiming that Escondido Charter High School was going to be “shot up” the following morning, according to police.

gun at schoolAs a precaution, administrators canceled classes the next day at that campus and at three other American Heritage schools — Heritage K-8 Charter, Heritage Digital Academy Middle School and Heritage Digital Academy High School. All four reopened the following Tuesday, after the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend.

Investigators soon traced the message to a computer owned by a student of another local school and determined that the youth was an innocent victim of a hacker, Lt. Neal Griffin said.

Over the ensuing weeks, police tracked down the suspected guilty party in Miami and determined that the 17-year-old in question had no affiliation with Charter High School or any student enrolled there. No suspected motive for the bogus threat has been made public.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the suspect had not been arrested, though an Escondido detective was in Florida, continuing to work on the case along with an FBI cyber-crimes task force.

“This joint investigation is continuing, and issues regarding prosecution and jurisdiction are still being discussed,” Griffin said.

Griffin declined to release any further information about the suspect, including gender and school status.


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