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Police trace threatening e-mail

November 05, 1999

No weapons were found in the home of a 14-year-old South Hagerstown High School student Thursday after Hagerstown City Police traced a threatening e-mail message on the Internet to his residence.

The message was e-mailed to the South Hagerstown High School administrative offices Thursday afternoon, according to police. The content wasn't revealed.

Sgt. Gary Spielman said Friday morning the boy hasn't been charged nor is he in custody.

With the aid of school staff and the Maryland State Police computer crimes unit, the investigation led to the boy's home just outside Hagerstown.

Armed with a search and seizure warrant, police searched the residence and recovered computer equipment, police said.

Despite not finding any weapons in the home, Capt. Robert Hart said he was taking the threat seriously. He said cruisers were positioned at the front and rear of the school and police personnel were inside the school.

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The proactive position by the police and school officials came as a result of recent incidents of violence in schools such as in Columbine, Colo., Hart said.

A press release from the Washington County Board of Education said school officials were working with police.

"Based on past experience, we believe this is not a valid threat. However, security will be increased until the origin of the threat is determined," the press release said.

Police said the message was not directed at anyone.

The threat would be considered a misdemeanor and is punishable by up to $1,000 in fines and six months in jail, police said.

- Marlo Barnhart

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