Sheriff: Teen arrested after Paw Paw HS threat deemed ‘credible’

Posted at 11:52 AM, Mar 19, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-19 23:40:37-04

PAW PAW, Mich. — Detectives with the Van Buren County Sheriff’s Office investigate at least five shooting threats a week since January, said Sheriff Dan Abbott. Sometimes, they turn out to be nothing. On Sunday, one turned out to be something.

“We had information come into our office yesterday evening about a kid that was possibly going to carry out some terrorists threats at Paw Paw High School today,” said Sheriff Abbott in an interview at the station. “During the investigation they did find it to be very credible.”

It was. Sheriff Abbott said the tip came in from a local family, reaching out to them for help. The 15-year-old suspect was interviewed at the station while detectives conducted a search warrant at his home.

“Once at the residence they did recover two stolen firearms which had been sawed down that was going to be used with multiple rounds,” said Sheriff Abbott. “If it wasn’t for the family something horrific probably would’ve happened today.”

Detectives also recovered “bomb-making materials” that was to be used for pipe bombs and molotov cocktails, he said. They conducted other interviews and determined that the suspect was planning to work alone.

“There was 100 percent intent on murders happening [and] bombs going off,” said Sheriff Abbott. “You just wouldn’t think of that with a smaller community like this.”

The suspect was arraigned on Monday in South Haven. He’s facing six felonies including one for a terrorist threat, Sheriff Abbott said.

“He’ll be getting the help he needs,” he said. “There’s some obvious mental [health] issues going on that our investigators picked up on.”

Detectives checked the school to make sure it was safe he said. Monday, the superintendent cancelled classes and told students in a statement that there’d be increased police presence when they return Tuesday morning. Sheriff Abbott said there’ll be law enforcement there all week but he’s grateful that family tipped them off.

“Any tip you get, let someone know,” said Sheriff Abbott. “I mean you can do it anonymously. We don’t care. We just need to get the tip, get the information to us so we can run with it, so that something tragic does not happen.”