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Georgia man arrested for multiple local school threats

The Washington County Sheriff’s Office announced Tuesday afternoon the arrest of a suspect in the series of bomb and active shooter threats in southeast Ohio schools over the last six days.

Nicholas John Frances Hall, 18, of 1385 Washington Road, Thomson, Ga., was arrested in McDuffie County, Ga., by the McDuffie County Sheriff’s Office.

Washington County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Mark Warden announced the arrest after a multi-agency investigation Tuesday.

Hall, according to FBI records, has a past criminal charge out of Lee County, Fla., for a first-degree misdemeanor of battery from March of 2018.

According to the affidavit submitted to Marietta Municipal Court by the Washington County Sheriff’s Office on Tuesday for a warrant uploaded to the National Crime Information Center, Hall allegedly confessed to a deputy sheriff of the Georgia agency that “he made the bomb threats to get his girlfriend out of school.”

Hall was arrested on one count of inducing panic, a second-degree felony; and one count of making terrorist acts, a third-degree felony.

“There were at least 13 threats in Washington County,” said Warden. “Then you expand out to Athens County, Noble County, Morgan County and more in Ohio.”

According to detectives, calls also went into Union County (area of Marysville) and Upper Arlington outside of Columbus.

Athens County Sheriff’s Capt. Bryan Cooper confirmed Trimble High School also received a threat Tuesday.

The detectives bureau of the Washington County Sheriff’s Office is expected to recommend to the Washington County Prosecutor’s Office that repeated charges per day and per school threatened over the course of the four school days be presented to a grand jury.

The affidavit notes Hall allegedly used a mobile phone application to spoof multiple phone numbers for the calls to the schools.

The affidavit describes use of the app and multiple email accounts which were tracked to a Pennsylvania internet protocol address with a witness in Minersville, Pa., allegedly confirming Hall had previously resided there before relocation to Georgia.

“We were in Pennsylvania last night and it sent us to Georgia,” said Warden. “This really is a result of incredible police work and cooperation, all of the agencies involved.”

Warden noted detectives of the Washington-Monroe-Morgan-Noble County Major Crimes Task Force were aided by the swift care of dispatchers and the response of Washington County K-9 Largo and his partner Deputy Jason Hall (Fort Frye Local Schools dedicated resource officer); Muskingum County K-9 Panzer and his partner Josh Whiteman; Ohio University K-9s Alex and Brody and their respective partners Tim Woodyard and Michael Harlow; Stark County Sheriff’s K-9 Judge and his partner Sgt. Mike Green; Franklin County Sheriff’s K-9 Atry and his partner Deputy Jeremy Copas.

Warden also noted the collaboration with Ohio State Highway Patrol, Lowell Police Department, Marietta Police Department, Belpre Police Department, Minersville Police Department, Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office, Morgan County Sheriff’s Office, Noble County Sheriff’s Office, Athens County Sheriff’s Office, Union County Sheriff’s Office, Upper Arlington Police Department, and investigators with the Ohio Department of Corrections.

“We are not becoming complacent about threats. The buildings were swept and were secured by police overnight so our response at (Beverly-Center Elementary) and (Fort Frye High School) was different (Tuesday),” said Fort Frye Superintendent Dr. Stephanie Starcher.

Fort Frye Local Schools saw the first of Tuesday’s bomb threats at the high school while students were entering the building.

“We also staffed the bomb officers/dogs here this morning for this very purpose,” Starcher added.

Then, calls to Wolf Creek Local Schools, Warren Local Schools, Marietta City Schools and St. Mary Catholic followed throughout the morning and afternoon.

Warren Superintendent Kyle Newton confirmed at 11:22 a.m. that his buildings were cleared by law enforcement of the safety threat and classes continued under lockdown protocols.

Wolf Creek did not hold classes Tuesday following three school days of threats.

Marietta students were released from schools following a threat to the middle school; St. Mary’s students were under a “soft lockdown” at the start of school Tuesday and then evacuated by 11:30 a.m. following a threat to the parochial primary/middle school.

Parents were invited to pick up students at the evacuation location via automated call.

See the full story in Wednesday’s edition of The Marietta Times.

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