Suspect Arrested in Connection With Hanover High Shooting Threat

  • Maureen Stannard leaves Hanover High School with her son Owen on March 20, 2018, in Hanover, N.H. A potential social media threat was made to students at the school, prompting many parents to pick up their children early. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 3/21/2018 9:00:43 AM

Hanover — A 14-year-old girl from Brantford, Ontario, has been arrested in connection with a social media threat directed at Hanover High School students on Tuesday, according to police.

The unidentified juvenile has been charged by the Brantford Police Service with making the threat in the bio of an Instagram account with the handle “hanoverhighshooting.” The girl went before a Canadian judge on Wednesday for a bail hearing, but the outcome wasn’t known, Brantford Constable and spokesman Shane Seibert said.

As of Wednesday evening, Hanover police said there is no known connection between the girl and Hanover High School, but the investigation is ongoing. Police are working with authorities in Brantford to determine whether the threat was meant for New Hampshire’s Hanover High School, among other questions. The account’s handle didn’t specify a state or country, although it followed several Instagram accounts belonging to students in the state.

Additionally, police said it “is on our radar” that the girl might have learned of the school by reading an op-ed that ran in The New York Times on Monday and was written by a Hanover High student.

The op-ed by junior Dakota Hanchett details why he didn’t participate in the school’s recent walkout, which was part of a national campaign to protest gun violence and honor the 17 people who died last month in a Florida school shooting. 

Acting on a tip from Hanover police, Seibert said, Canadian authorities obtained and executed a search warrant at a Brantford residence around 8:45 p.m. on Tuesday. There, officers located the girl and arrested her without incident. They also seized electronic devices, which are being examined.

The girl has been formally charged under the Criminal Code of Canada with “uttering threats to cause bodily harm or death.” She was detained before appearing for Wednesday’s bail hearing.

Although she is being charged under the country’s criminal code, she is not being charged as an adult.

Her prosecution falls under Canada’s Youth Criminal Justice Act, “which has regulations for how to deal with young offenders,” Seibert said.

“It doesn’t matter if you are 12 or 80, if you (allegedly) commit a criminal offense here in Canada, you are charged under the Criminal Code of Canada,” he said.

Much like in Vermont, New Hampshire and the greater United States, Canada has juvenile protection laws in place that prohibit the release of her identity.

Brantford, a city of about 95,000, sits north of Lake Erie in southern Ontario, about 70 miles west of Niagara Falls.

There is a Hanover, Ontario, about 90 miles north of Brantford. Brantford is the hometown of hockey great Wayne Gretzky.

“ ... Social media outlets can be a useful but powerful tool. It is everyone’s responsibility to use it appropriately and safely,” the Brantford Police Service said in a news release published on its website. “Threatening online or social media posts are taken very seriously and are not treated as juvenile pranks. The BPS treats acts of violence or threats of violence the same, they will be fully investigated and if warranted charges will be laid.”

Lebanon police Sgt. Richard Norris aided officers in tracking the account to the Canadian residence, according to a Wednesday morning news release from Hanover police.

Lebanon Police Chief Richard Mello said Norris is a trained forensic investigator with Lebanon’s Cyber Crimes Unit, a division that assists outside agencies with digital evidence examinations, and he also is an Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force member, so he spends considerable time uncovering online predators.

In short, Norris used his training to complete a series of search warrants to obtain information that eventually led officers to the source of the posting. By doing so, an officer is able to obtain information within an account, which can tip off authorities to a location, Mello said, speaking more generally.

Norris, as well as Hanover police and outside agencies including the FBI, eventually traced the threat back to an IP address registered outside of the United States. An IP address is a string of numbers given to a computer or device connected to the internet.

Lebanon police also have specialized technology that supplements an officer’s ability to investigate and analyze these and other types of crimes, Mello said.

Hanover High School Principal Justin Campbell and Superintendent Jay Badams both issued statements on Wednesday morning updating the school community on the investigation’s progress.

“I want you all to know that after speaking with the chief this morning I feel confident that (Tuesday’s) situation has been resolved. I look forward to a return to normalcy (and) to reviewing our security protocols in light of this incident,” Campbell said in an email to parents.

“ ... I am very grateful for the grace under pressure shown by our entire community. Our students have been particularly impressive in their response to this event, and our staff stands ready to support any student who remains concerned or fearful,” Badams said in his statement. “We should all be comforted in the incredibly rapid and thorough job that our local police departments did in providing support and investigating this case.”

Eleventh-grade students took the SAT on Wednesday at Hanover High; students in all other grades were excused from school for the day.

Wednesday’s school day went smoothly, with no interruptions, Campbell said.

The Instagram account, which was active as of Tuesday night, has since been deactivated.

The account’s profile picture featured an internet stock image of a female holding rifles, her face out of frame, and the account’s bio made reference to a firearm in its threat.

It read, in part, “THIS IS FOR WHAT YOU’VE GIVEN ME FOR 2 YEARS STRAIGHT I GIVE NO MERCY IF I SEE YOU YOU GET SHOT. IT HAPPENS SOON ... MAYBE TODAY ... ”

The threat prompted many students to leave school early on Tuesday, and Hanover police stood guard at the school all day. Officers also were present on Wednesday.

Several parents called the threat worrisome, a concern that was compounded by the fact the threat was made on the same day as a school shooting in Maryland. A student gunman at a high school in Great Mills shot and injured two classmates before being shot to death by an armed deputy stationed on the campus.

Hanover High School doesn’t have a school resource officer, Campbell said.

Badams, the superintendent, has scheduled a Monday evening forum on bullying, where he said he plans to reserve time to discuss Tuesday’s threat. The forum will be held at 6:30 p.m. in the Hanover High School library.

Jordan Cuddemi can be reached at   jcud demi@vnews.com or 603-727-3248.

 Clarification

Hanover police said it "is on our radar" that a 14-year-old Ontario girl accused of threatening a school shooting at Hanover High School via social media might have learned of the school by reading a New York Times op ed this week that was written by a Hanover High junior. There is no indication that the girl in Canada has any connection to the Hanover student himself, who wrote about why he didn't participate in a recent student walkout calling for more gun control. An earlier version of this story was unclear on that point.



Continue reading after the PDF.


Hanover High School students walked out of class on March 9 to protest gun violence. Continue reading after the video.



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