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‘He was not involved’: Charges against Roanoke man accused of making school threats dismissed

UPDATE

The charge against a 35-year-old man who was accused of posting threatening messages to local schools has been dismissed in the Roanoke City General District.

The decision came during a bond hearing for Stephen Johnson on Wednesday morning, where Roanoke Commonwealth’s Attorney Donald Caldwell stated that Johnson “was not involved” in the incident.

This comes after another charge, communicating in interstate commerce a threat to injure another person, was also dismissed on a government motion in federal court on Tuesday.

As we’ve reported below, this incident resulted in the closure of Roanoke City Public Schools for two days. Investigators previously claimed that Johnson was arrested after posting threatening messages to local schools on Snapchat.

The 15-year-old boy arrested in connection with this incident is still facing charges and we’re told that devices used to make the threat have been recovered. While Caldwell decided to nolle prosequi the charge against Johnson, the charge can potentially be brought up against Johnson again in the future should new evidence surface.

“This situation underscores how easily social media can be used as a weapon, not only against individuals, but governmental organizations as well. The problem is easily identified, the solution is not so clear,” Caldwell said in part in a statement. His entire statement can be found below:

Roanoke Commonwealth’s Attorney on charges being dismissed by Jazmine Otey on Scribd

Roanoke City Schools Superintendent Verletta White shared the following message with school families and staff this afternoon.

Stay with 10 News as this breaking news story develops.

UPDATE

The federal court has dismissed a charge against a 35-year-old man who is accused of posting threatening messages to local schools on Snapchat, according to court records.

The charge, communicating in interstate commerce a threat to injure another person, was dismissed on a government motion; however, Stephen Johnson, of Roanoke, has now been charged in the Roanoke City General District Court.

He currently faces a Class 6 felony charge of threats toward schools.

We’re working for you to learn more.

Stay with 10 News as this breaking news story develops.

ORIGINAL STORY

An adult has been arrested after he allegedly posted threatening messages to local schools on Snapchat, according to the FBI.

We’re told 35-year-old Stephen Johnson of Roanoke was arrested on a federal criminal complaint after the investigation by Roanoke Police and the FBI.

Johnson is now facing a federal charge of communicating in interstate commerce a threat to injure another person, as well as a Class 6 felony charge of threats toward schools.

Authorities said several threatening messages were posted to a Snapchat group on the evening of Feb. 21. The group was used by Patrick Henry High School students.

One of the threats made involved a school shooting, authorities said.

The Snapchat group requires users to register with a Gmail address, and investigators were able to trace the threats back to Johnson’s account.

Federal investigators say Johnson’s Snapchat accounts were also associated with Roanoke City student email addresses:

As we reported previously, the Roanoke City school system was closed on Thursday out of an abundance of caution after the threats were made.

Police presence was upped at Montgomery County schools on Thursday after those threats made their way to the NRV.

“At this point, it appears all of the posts being shared in our community, are the same posts that originated in Roanoke City,” Christiansburg Police said. “It seems that through social media, these posts are circulating through several communities.”

Roanoke Police released additional information Thursday evening, saying additional anonymous threats were made toward RCPS after Johnson was taken into custody. Police say those threats were “copycat” threats.

Roanoke City Public Schools will be closed on Friday, Feb. 23, as authorities continue to investigate those additional threats.

The investigation is ongoing and Assistant U.S. Attorney Lee Brett is prosecuting the case.


Source: WSLS News 10

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