SALT LAKE CITY (Reuters) - The FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force and local police arrested a 16-year-old Utah boy accused of making bomb threats and ransom demands over Skype that shut down the first day of classes at his former high school, authorities said on Friday.
The threats warned that unless a $10 million ransom were paid, multiple explosive devices would detonate on the Westlake High School campus in Saratoga Springs on Tuesday as some 2,200 students returned to class after the summer vacation.
Police said the teen was arrested at his home late Thursday and is being held in a juvenile detention facility on suspicion of multiple felonies including making threats of violence and making terroristic threats involving weapons of mass destruction.
A search of the school, 35 miles south of Salt Lake City, found no explosives and classes resumed the following day, Saratoga Springs police Corporal Matt Schauerhamer said.
The teenager is also suspected of using Skype calls and a Facebook account to make threats against local police officers and their families. His motive appears to have been a “general disdain for law enforcement,” Schauerhamer said.
He said the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force and Saratoga Springs investigators sought assistance from Skype and Facebook in tracing the IP addresses used to send the threats.
Police removed computers and other electronic devices from the teen’s residence, but seized no explosives or firearms.
The suspect, whose name was not released, previously attended Westlake High School but is now enrolled in a distance-learning program, police said.
A message left for the school’s principal was not returned on Friday. An Alpine School District spokesman said he could not comment because police had not provided school or district officials with the boy’s name.
Prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Utah County Attorney’s Office are jointly reviewing the case and will decide whether to charge the boy in state and/or federal court.
They will also consider whether to ask a judge’s permission to try the teen as an adult, Schauerhamer said.
(The story removes extraneous word “that” from paragraph 4)
Reporting by Jennifer Dobner; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Mohammad Zargham