UPDATE 3:45 p.m. Saturday, April 13
Saturday afternoon, Ada County Sheriff's Deputies, in cooperation with officers from Boise and Meridian police departments and the FBI, arrested a teenager they say is responsible for orchestrating more than a dozen threats to Treasure Valley schools and businesses. Due to his age, the suspect's name is not being released.
Law enforcement said that on Wednesday, April 10 a threat of violence was called in to a Meridian high school. That was followed on Thursday, April 11 by a string of bomb threats made to schools in Boise, Caldwell, Kuna and Twin Falls. Similar threats were called in to businesses in Boise and Meridian that afternoon. On Friday, April 12, still more threats were called in to other locations. A total of 17 threats had been made by Friday afternoon.
"These [threats] went well beyond a hoax or prank to what I would call domestic terrorist threats," said Meridian Police Chief Jeff Lavey. "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."
Ada County Sheriff's detectives say they received information on Friday, April 12 that led them to believe a Meridian teenager was responsible for initiating the threats. Deputies said they tracked the 16-year-old to his home in Meridian where they met with the teen and his parents Friday night.
Based on evidence gathered to date, investigators have confirmed that the 16-year-old and a teenage male in Australia worked together via online chats to make the threats. Detectives said the pair met through an online game chat room eight months ago. According to police, the two teens have admitted to making prank calls to restaurants and other businesses prior to this week's threats.
According to law enforcement, the Meridian teen provided the target locations and phone numbers to the Australian teen who then made the calls over the phone and through a computer network to the Idaho schools and businesses.
"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.
Law enforcement has taken the 16-year-old into custody and booked him into the Ada County Juvenile Detention Center on charges of making a false report of explosives - a felony.
Meanwhile, Australian law enforcement in Orange, New South Wales, confirmed that the Australian teen 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.
Additional charges are possible.
"Making a threat is a felony whether you are a juvenile or adult," said Raney. "We take these calls very seriously. Anytime a threat is made, we will find the people responsible and hold them accountable."
ORIGINAL POST: 9 a.m. Saturday, April 13
Treasure Valley law enforcement agencies say the FBI is likely to join the investigation into who is behind a series of bomb threats to several schools, businesses and one hospital on April 11.
A string of threats targeted a number of schools in Boise, Caldwell, Kuna, Nampa and Twin Falls in the late morning hours of April 11. Later that afternoon, bomb threats were called into at least three retail stores—Kohl's and Walmart in Meridian and a Boise area Target. That same evening, still another threat was called in to the St. Luke's Magic Valley Hospital in Twin Falls.
Meanwhile, additional bomb threats were called in Friday to Initial Point High School in Kuna, Eagle Academy and Eagle High School. Boise State University also received what law enforcement called a "non-specific bomb threat" on Friday.
Nampa Police Sergeant Mike Wagoner told the Idaho Press-Tribune that the investigation continues and when an arrest is made "a prison sentence is likely."
Meanwhile, Wagoner cautioned parents to keep their distance from schools when such threats are called in.
"We understand the concern for parents. I’m a parent, I’ve got several kids myself. If that kind of thing happens, you have to trust that the people who are there are going to take care of your child just like they’d take care of their own,” Wagoner told the Press-Tribune.
ORIGINAL POST: Friday, April 12
Following a string of bomb threats throughout the day Thursday targeting Idaho schools and stores, still another threat was called in Thursday night to the St. Luke's Magic Valley Hospital In Twin Falls.
This morning's Twin Falls Times-News reports that Twin Falls police helped sweep the Hospital campus but no threats were found.
Threats began sweeping across the Treasure Valley late Thursday morning, when callers began targeting schools in the Boise, Caldwell, Kuna and Nampa school districts. Even some schools which were not targeted directly by the threats were placed on a so-called "soft lockdown."
All of the schools received the calls between 10:50 a.m. and 12 p.m.
Another bomb threat was called into Twin Falls Christian Academy at approximately 11:40 a.m.
Coincidentally, most of the schools were participating in the Idaho Stands Achievement Test - or ISAT - at the time of the threat.
Later in the day, approximately 4 p.m., bomb threats were called into at least three retail stores - Kohl's and Walmart in the Meridian area and a Boise area Target.
A Meridian police spokesman told KTVB-TV that the caller to the retailers was "described as a male, possibly an adult."
Law enforcement was quick to remind the public that a fake bomb threat is a felony punishable by up to five years behind bars.
ORIGINAL POST: Thursday, April 11
UPDATE, 1:47 p.m.: Boise School District officials announced that after a search of the school, no bomb or any threat was found. Classes resumed at 12:50 p.m.
UPDATE, 12:22 p.m.: Ada County Sheriff's Office officials report that police have determined that there is no threat at Kuna High School. Students and staff have already returned to classes.
UPDATE, 12:03 p.m.: Kuna High School also received a bomb threat at roughly 10:50 a.m. According to the Ada County Sheriff's Office, the school has been evacuated and is being searched. School administrators say classes will resume once the building has been cleared.
Students from Boise High School were evacuated from campus buildings before 11 a.m. following a bomb threat.
According to a message from Dr. Ann Farris, Boise Area Director of the Boise School District:
"We immediately implemented our safety and security procedures and contacted Boise Police. All students have been safely evacuated to the school's football field."
Parents of students have been informed that they're able to pick up students on the 13th Street side of the football field. Parents are asked to bring proper identification.
"Classes may or may not resume," said Farris.
According to the Boise Police Department, the threat is currently under investigation, but no further information was available.