High School Student Convicted For Paying Darknet User to Send Email Threats to His School

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A former Rancho Cotate High School student has been convicted in a plot involving a dark web criminal who was paid to email threats targeting the school and its students, authorities said Tuesday.

Rohnert Park Department of Public Safety officials did not name the student because he was a minor at the time of the threats.

Authorities said the case began on Feb. 27, 2017 when school officials received a bomb threat by phone at 5:45 p.m. The school was not in session at the time, but members of the school athletic teams and some staff were on campus and were evacuated.

Police searched the building and no suspicious devices were located. Then on the morning of March 8, 2017, another threat was emailed to staff members. The email mentioned explosive devices as well as the threat of a mass shooting that was going to occur at the school with over 1,400 students.

All of the students and staff were evacuated, closing down the school for the rest of the day. The threats were investigated and there was no evidence leading investigators to believe they were credible.

Detectives from Rohnert Park Public Safety began working with the FBI to determine who was responsible for the threats.

In April of 2017, the FBI charged an 18-year old Israeli man with making numerous bomb and active shooter threats to Jewish Community Centers, schools, and other institutions across the United States. The individual was operating on a dark web marketplace where he offered to make the threats in exchange for payment.

Investigators were able to link that individual to the threats made to Rancho Cotate High School.

FBI Agents further assisted local detectives with the analysis of virtual currency and other financial transactions, as well as dark web portal transactions and eventually a former student was identified as the individual who solicited and paid for the threats in 2017.

He was arrested earlier this year and was recently convicted of the crimes. No other details about the suspect was released.

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Written by Kofi Anash

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