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Online threat to U.S. high school traced to girl, 14, in Canada

Last Updated Mar 21, 2018 at 6:17 pm EDT

Several apps are displayed on an iPhone on March 1, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Richard Drew

A 14-year-old girl from Ontario has been charged for allegedly making online threats against a high school in the United States.

Const. Natalie Lang with the Brantford, Ont., police says the girl was arrested Tuesday night and charged with uttering threats to cause bodily harm or death.

She says the threat was made in an Instagram post that threatened a school in Hanover, N.H., and mentioned a shooting.

Land says the girl, who cannot be named under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, will be prosecuted in Canada.

The girl appeared in court Wednesday for a bail hearing.

Police say officers executed a search warrant at a home in Brantford and seized electronic devices.

“Yes, she has been charged … but co-operation between our detectives in the major crime unit and the Hanover Police Department is still ongoing,” Lang said in an interview Wednesday.

Both Canadian and U.S. officials said they were unaware of any link between the Ontario teen and the community of Hanover, but have not ruled it out.

Hanover police Lt. Scott Rathburn said the force took the latest incident involving the Ontario teen “seriously.”

“Our investigation lead us, through a search back of the IP used to send the message, to a location in Brantford and we then contacted police there,” Rathburn said.

Extra security was brought into the school, he added, and they will be there throughout the week.

“We will continue making regular contact with the school and also keep in touch with school officials so we can share as much information as we can with them to determine what their security needs will be in the future.”

The alleged threat came a day after Ontario’s provincial police charged five tweens and teens with making online threats against schools in the province. Police reported a spike in similar online threats in the weeks since the massacre at a Florida high school last month in which 14 students and three teachers were killed.

OPP Sgt. Peter Leon told The Canadian Press on Tuesday that Instagram is among the platforms where threats have popped up, and he suspected some might be making such posts in an effort to gain followers.

Experts have said online threats tend to spike after high-profile school shootings.

Aimee Morrison, a professor of digital media at the University of Waterloo, also said Tuesday that some teens make threats on social media in an attempt to gain notoriety and garner a larger following.

With files from Nicole Thompson and Michelle McQuigge


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