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Bemidji boy, 17, charged with making threats that led district to close area schools

Boy arrested after threats close down Bemidji schools
Boy arrested after threats close down Bemidji schools 00:44

BEMIDJI, Minn. — A 17-year-old boy in Bemidji has been charged with a felony after he allegedly made threats that prompted area schools to close earlier this week.

According to a juvenile petition filed Thursday in Beltrami County, the teenager has been charged with threats of violence in connection to an incident that began Tuesday evening.

Bemidji police say 911 dispatchers were sent multiple text-to-911 messages starting around 7:30 p.m. containing threats to a specific district school and staff members. One of the texts allegedly read: "TRY AND STOP ME AND I WILL KILL YOU."

Investigators were initially unable to trace the source, prompting area schools to go on an e-learning day due to the threats.

Around 11:20 p.m. Tuesday, investigators were able to pinpoint the cellphone number to a Bemidji boy after "an extensive search involving several third-party cellular resellers," according to police. 

RELATED: Threats against schools, Jewish facilities in Minnesota part of swatting attempt, BCA says

"Bemidji police officers and detectives worked extensively throughout the night and into the early morning hours to ensure the safety of students and staff members of all Bemidji Schools," said BPD Cpt. David LaZella.

The boy was then arrested without incident.

The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension said at least 25 schools and nine Jewish facilities received shooting or bombing threats on Wednesday, though none of them were credible. The threats were part of a swatting attempt and unrelated to the Bemidji threat, the BCA said.

A BCA spokesperson said threats were reported in the following areas: Aitkin, Anoka, Bemidji, Brainerd, Champlin, Circle Pines, Columbia Heights, Crosby, Detroit Lakes, Duluth, Frazee-Vergas, Fridley, Mendota Heights, Minneapolis, Minnetonka, Rochester, Spring Lake Park, St. Francis and Anoka County.

WCCO does not typically identify suspects unless they are charged as an adult. The featured video is from Dec. 6, 2023.

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