Prosecutors: Simple Motive Behind Orange HS Threats

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PEPPER PIKE, Ohio— Three Orange High School students are now charged with sending anonymous emails to the school in November, saying there was a bomb inside and threatening certain staff members.

The school closed for three days.

“I’m shocked, but some people kind of knew,” Orange High School student Joseph Holbert said.

Holbert said was friends with one of the boys who is accused of making the threats.

“He said he did not do it,” Holbert said.

Cuyahoga County Assistant Prosecutor Michael Horn said it was those rumors at the school that led them to identify the boys, raid their homes and seize their computers.

“There were rumors in the school because these guys were talking, based on that they got a search warrant for one of the kids’ houses and then he confessed,” Horn said.

Prosecutors said the two unidentified 16-year-olds and a 17-year-old boy used encryption codes to send the threats.

“They sent the emails to an off-site server and that kind of makes them anonymous then,” Horn said.

All three face 17 felony counts of inducing panic, 2 misdemeanor counts of telecommunications harassment and 1 count of criminal tools, being the computers that were used.

A spokesman for Orange High School said the boys’ families pulled them out of school as soon as their identities were discovered and there is no plan for them to return.

“Anytime I needed someone, like, to help me with something computer-wise, I could go to him to help me,” Holbert said of one of the boys charged.

Student Brianna Johnson said that while the threats have stopped, the consequences they caused are lasting.

“We missed school for a whole week, and now we have, like, extended days and that’s why we get out of practice so late now, just because of the threats,” Johnson said.

Prosecutors believe the motive was simple.

“They were trying to see if they could get away with it,” Horn said.

The boys could be jailed until they are 21.

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