After a number of hoax bomb threat incidents directed toward Michigan schools, universities, and other targets, a 16-year-old from the UK has been arrested in connection with the false alarms.
The teenager used Twitter and other social media like Skype, MSN Messenger, and email to initiate bomb threats and ‘swatting’ incidents.
Some of these occurred at school districts in Michigan: Hudsonville High School in October, at Coopersville in September, and at Allendale in January. According to the police in Hudsonville, someone made a call “about an individual on campus that was going to do harm to Hudsonville students.”
According to John Tunison of MLive, the teenager used the name “Ransom” on Twitter. He was arrested June 26th in his home near Liverpool, writes WZZM 13. TITAN, a regional police crime unit from the Northwest, joined the FBI in the investigation.
The TITAN website quoted Detective Superintendent Jason Hudson to explain how the investigation is proceeding:
We are still in the early stages of this investigation and there is still much work to be done. There is a young man who needs to be interviewed by my specialist officers who will be mindful of his age but also the seriousness of the allegations. We have also recovered some computer equipment and mobile phones which we will analyze for evidential purposes and our findings will of course be shared with our partners in the FBI.
Their investigation identified some extremely serious threats to institutions and companies which had major implications for these organizations, the individuals who work for them, and the wider public.
The FBI was investigating bomb threats and swatting incidents targeting the Michigan school districts listed above, Michigan State Univeristy, Western Michigan University, Delta Airlines, and WZZM 13, from September to April, to which this teenager may be connected. Several flights were grounded and two others were escorted by military jets to their destinations due to these threats.
‘Swatting’ refers to giving police false information about threats with the intent of provoking an unnecessary SWAT team response.
A 14-year-old boy in Coopersville, Michigan, Bryce Michmerhuizen, was charged as a juvenile for providing “Ransom” with information. According to John Agar of MLive, his father said that Bryce believed it was merely a funny joke. The father, Robert, said:
He will learn from this.
This is not a joke. This is very serious. It’s not only the child paying for it. Your parents do. Your siblings do. The grandparents, the aunts and uncles. That’s who’s here.
He met the UK teen via gaming and they communicated over Skype. In addition to jail time, he may be expected to pay costs resulting from the 911 call.