North-East man arrested after alleged threats to kill 200 schoolchildren in USA (From The Northern Echo)
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Facebook posting prompts US Department of Homeland Security to respond
A NORTH-East man has been arrested by police investigating alleged threats to 200 children at schools in the USA.
Northumbria Police detained a 24-year-old man from South Shields today (Friday, February 8) on suspicion of threats to kill after an anonymous post was made on a Facebook memorial page.
The posting threatened a mass killing spree at schools in Warren County, Tennessee, stating: "I'm gonna kill at least 200 before I kill myself."
Following the post, anti-terrorist teams were sent to guard all schools in the area and nearly 3,000 pupils were kept away.
The incident apparently led to the Department of Homeland Security being informed.
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigations Cyber Crime operatives are working on the case.
A spokeswoman for Northumbria Police said tonight: "At 2.12pm today, police received notification that a man had posted threatening information on Facebook. A 24-year-old man from South Shields has been arrested on suspicion of threats to kill and is currently in custody.
"The message is believed to have been posted on Wednesday.
"There is nothing to suggest he posed any physical threat to any schools either here or in America.
"We are currently seeking advice with regards as to who has jurisdiction into this incident."
Bobby Cox, director of Warren County Schools, Tennessee, updated parents on Facebook, telling them: "We received notice of violent threats directed at Warren County High School late Wednesday evening.
"We put an action plan together with the local authorities to ensure the safety of our schools and our campuses across the system.
"We wanted to make sure that we had all the facts before we sent a mass message out via our calling system to you.
"Currently the Sheriff's Department is working with the TBI and Homeland Security to trace down the person who posted the message."
Security was being increased at schools and access was to be limited, Mr Cox said.
"In the world we live in we can never be too cautious and must take all threats seriously," he said.
Kirstin Helm, of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, said the agency was unaware of any arrest
"Agents with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation are working with Facebook to try and identify the individual who posted the threat," she said.
"So far, we have not identified anyone."
Gunman Adam Lanza killed 27 pupils and adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Connecticut, in December.
The tragedy caused revulsion in the US and around the world.
The memorial page was set up for a local student who died in October, a Tennessee newspaper said.
Someone wrote on it using a false name.
The Chattanooga Times Free Press said police were posted to 11 schools in the local area.
Mr Cox told the newspaper: "It's sad that it kept kids home from school when they should be learning and having the best days of their life."