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16-year-old arrested for threatening call to school

By Daniel Silliman

dsilliman@news-daily.com

Jonesboro Police have arrested a juvenile on charges that he made the threatening phone calls which closed down Clayton County's Open Campus High School.

A 16-year-old male, who is not being named because he's a minor, was charged with making terroristic threats, disrupting a public school and misusing 911, Jonesboro police said.

Two phone calls were made to the Eula Wilborn Ponds Perry Center from two different phones Thursday morning. In one call, a male said he was inside the school, had a gun and planned to do harm to himself and other people in the center. In one of the calls, a male caller mentioned the name of a student in the school system, but not at the center, according to School District Spokesman Charles White.

Police searched the school, room by room, and every student was searched with a handheld metal detector, according to White. Students at Lee Street Elementary School, across the street from the center, were kept inside and officials were alerted to the situation.

The school was cleared and students returned to class about 12:30 p.m.

Jonesboro Police Detective Tim Jessup said the 16-year-old was caught in the school, after information from both calls led investigators back to him.

"It boiled down to one individual," Jessup said. "It all came back to him."

The Clayton County Police Department and the Clayton County Sheriff's Office aided the city's force in clearing the school, protecting the students, tracking the two phone calls and identifying the suspect. Detectives reportedly used a wide array of techniques and tools in identifying the caller, including technical cell phone call tracking and K-9 police dogs.

According to Jessup, the teen confessed to making the calls in court Friday.

"I believe it was a prank," the detective said, "and I don't believe the young man realized the resources that we had to narrow it down to him."