GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA) – A Belton man is accused of sending multiple threats to schools in Anderson County.
Threats were sent to Belton Honea Path High School, Anderson County School District 2, and Tri-County Technical College.
The threats began on April 18 when BHP High School received a threat through an online fax service called FaxZero. The fax included the message “I’m shooting up the school soon,” according to an affidavit from the FBI.
Anderson County School District 2 employees received more threats via email and fax the next day. 18 employees received another threat on April 21, the FBI said.
Tri-County Technical College received its first threats on May 18 via fax from FaxZero, the FBI affidavit said.
More threats were sent via email to Tri-County Technical College on May 26.
These threats prompted the college to cancel classes at all campuses on May 27.
The FBI affidavit also stated that three more faxed threats were sent on May 27, including to Anderson School District 2.
The Anderson County Sheriff’s Office said 22-year-old Jonathan Trent Patterson was arrested Thursday and placed in holding for the FBI.
Deputies had previously seized electronic devices from Patterson’s home on May 18 during a search. The FBI stated that Patterson used an old phone belonging to a family member to send the threats in late May.
In an interview Thursday, following a second search of Patterson’s home, the FBI stated that Patterson told them that he sent the threatening messages because he believed it would “be funny.”
He also told the FBI that he sent the messages to Tri-County Technical College because he was upset with them for expelling him.
Anderson County Sheriff Chad McBride told 7News, threats were also made to Wren High School and Wren Middle School in Anderson School District One.
“We are very pleased that a suspect is in custody in response to threats made to multiple schools,” said Anderson School District One Superintendent Robbie Binnicker. “Threats made to schools are serious violations of the law particularly as students, parents, and school employees are already on edge from recent events.”
“While these charges speak for themselves, this office aggressively investigates and, where appropriate, prosecutes threats of violence and acts of violence,” said U.S. Attorney Corey Ellis.
“This is especially true when anyone threatens harm against our schools, and recent events confirm these threats must be taken seriously.”
“We appreciate the help from our federal partners on this,” said Sheriff McBride. “This is unacceptable and not sure why people want to be idiots and do stuff like this.”
“It’s not funny and now he is going to waste part of his young life paying for stupid decisions,” said McBride. “He deserves every minute he spends behind bars.”
Patterson was expected to appear in federal court Friday afternoon in Greenville.