A SOUTH Tyneside man has been remanded in custody after being accused of making an internet threat to kill 200 American schoolchildren.
Reece Elliott, 24, from Shrewsbury Terrace in the Deans area of South Shields, was arrested by police on Friday after a posting on a Facebook memorial page for a girl killed in a Tennessee road accident.
The message said: “I’m gonna kill at least 200 before I kill myself.”
The anonymous message, put online last Wednesday, prompted extra security in the Warren County area of Tennessee, with reports saying that around 3,000 pupils stayed off school the next day.
Elliott, an unemployed former pupil at Mortimer Comprehensive School, appeared before South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court on Saturday morning, charged with making threats to kill and making a malicious communication.
No pleas were entered and he was remanded in custody, to return to the court on Wednesday.
The father-of-one was arrested at the home of his mother, Jeanette Elliott, in Foss Way, West Harton, South Shields, where he had been staying for the past fortnight after breaking up with his partner, with whom he lived in Shrewsbury Terrace, with their 20-month-old son.
Mrs Elliott said: “It has really hit me hard. Reece is an excellent son and he is devoted to his own son.
“He has been staying with us for a couple of weeks, after he had an argument with his girlfriend.”
Homeland Security services in the US were notified of the post and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation’s cyber-crime team were drafted in to investigate its source.
Bobby Cox, director of Warren County Schools, said: “We received notice of violent threats directed at Warren County High School late Wednesday evening, February 6.
“We put an action plan together with the local authorities to ensure the safety of our schools and our campuses across the system.
“In the world we live in today, we can never be too cautious and must take all threats seriously.”
A spokesman for Northumbria Police said: “At 2.12pm on Friday, February 8, police received notification that a man had posted threatening information on Facebook.
“The message is believed to have been posted on Wednesday.
“There is nothing to suggest it posed any physical threat to any school, either here or in America.”