***The following release release was issued by the Ada County Sheriff's Office on behalf of the law enforcement agencies involved in this investigation.
Meridian teen charged with multiple felonies for bomb threats
Saturday, April 13 - Ada County Sheriff's deputies, in cooperation with officers from Meridian Police, Boise Police and Federal Bureau of Investigation, have arrested the teenager responsible for orchestrating more than a dozen threats to Treasure Valley schools and businesses this week.
The investigation began Wednesday when a call was made to a Meridian high school threatening violence. On Thursday morning bomb threats were made by phone to schools in Boise, Kuna, Caldwell and Twin Falls. That evening similar threats were made at businesses in Boise and Meridian. On Friday morning, threats were again made by phone to schools and businesses in Boise, Meridian, Kuna and Eagle. By Friday afternoon, detectives were investigating a total of 17 threats made in Ada County alone. There were additional threats reported at schools in Caldwell, Nampa and Twin Falls.
Each time a threat was received, officers responded immediately to determine if a real danger existed. Schools and businesses were evacuated while investigators searched the area to ensure all were safe.
"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.
Ada County Sheriff's detectives received information Friday that led them to believe a Meridian teenager was responsible for initiating the threats. Deputies tracked down the 16-year-old at his home in Meridian where they met with the teen and his parents Friday evening.
Based on evidence and information gathered so far, investigators have confirmed the 16-year-old 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.
Detectives determined the two males chatted over online gaming channels to coordinate the calls. 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.
Deputies took the 16-year-old into custody Friday evening. He was 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 and confirmed his involvement in making the threatening calls. The boy could face criminal charges in his community.
"This is a great example of officers from multiple jurisdictions and even a foreign country sharing information and resources to manage a complex investigation and quickly take those responsible into custody," said Ada County Sheriff Gary Raney.
The investigation is ongoing. Detectives believe these two teens are responsible for all of the threats made locally this week but are continuing to investigate whether any other suspects were involved or if additional threats have been made previously. Additional charges are possible, pending the outcome of that investigation.
"Making a threat is a felony whether you are a juvenile or adult. We take these calls very seriously. Anytime a threat is made, we will find the people responsible and hold them accountable," added Sheriff Raney.
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.