A 17-year-old who made a terrorist threat against several schools in St. Joseph and Savannah High School pleaded guilty to a charge in the case Tuesday morning in an Andrew County courtroom.
Andrew Lemon told Associate Circuit Judge Michael Ordnung that on April 28 he sent a message to five friends using Snapchat that stated he would commit a mass shooting at several schools, including Lafayette, Benton, Central and Savannah high schools and Truman Middle School.
The threats led to lockdowns at several schools on April 29. Lemon was taken into custody that day at Lafayette, where he was a student.
The young man was brought into custody using IP tracking, something that is commonly used when threats are made online, according to Lonnie Bishop with the Buchanan County Sheriff’s Office.
“Everything leaves a trail on the internet, and we can track it by the device that they use and we can track it by IP addresses,” Bishop said. “A lot of that takes a lot of legwork on a detective or investigator’s part to use either legal process to get the information that we need to where that was, where that post or that email originated from.”
Bishop said during that process, working with social media companies is something that often occurs, but that can be complicated depending on what country the company is based in.
Along with detectives and social media experts, when threats are made online, the community also plays a large part in tracking down who made the threat. In the case of Lemon, another student saw the threatening Snapchat post and told the authorities.
Lemon was sentenced to four years of probation and 120 days of shock time on the felony charge of making a terrorist threat. Under the terms of his probation, Lemon will be required to finish high school or obtain his GED and will only be allowed access to a computer to complete those tasks. He will not be allowed to be within 500 feet of any school or child care facility and can’t have a firearm at his place of residence.
If Lemon breaks his probation, he could face up to seven years in prison.