American authorities considering charges over online terror threat

First published in News
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The Northern Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter (Derwentside & Tyneside)

PROSECUTORS in America are working with North-East police to determine whether a man suspected of threatening to kill 200 schoolchildren should face charges on the other side of the Atlantic.

Lisa Zavogiannis, the District Attorney General in Warren County, Tennessee, has yet to make a decision about whether to extradite 24-year-old Reece Elliott, from South Shields.

The father-of-one is accused of threatening to carry out a shooting massacre, which led to thousands of pupils being kept away from school last week.

Ms Zavogiannis said the threat, on a Facebook memorial page for a girl who was killed in a road accident in Warren County, had been taken seriously.

She said: “It affected our entire school system. The children were basically terrorised because that threat occurred. It is something we take very seriously.

“I hope the investigation sends out a strong message that it is not okay to do this. It doesn’t matter where you are at. We are going to find you.

“We have not taken the decision about whether to prosecute yet. It is an option though.”

Officers from Northumbria Police are continuing to question Mr Elliott on behalf of US Authorities, including the Warren County sheriff, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and Homeland Security department.

The final decision about whether to extradite Mr Elliott will be made by Ms Zavogiannis.

Mr Elliott, of Shrewsbury Terrace, appeared at South Tyneside Magistrates' Court for a 30-minute hearing on Saturday charged with making threats to kill and making a malicious communication but entered no pleas.

He was remanded into custody and will next appear before South Tyneside magistrates at 10am on Wednesday.

A Northumbria Police spokesman said: “We are continuing to work closely with officials in Warren County.”

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