Federal agents in Oklahoma arrested a suspect Monday afternoon who was believed responsible for an online threat of mass violence against Casper.
The arrest rounded off a day of local school lockdowns and countywide warnings that had residents and businesses on edge.
The anonymous online threat specified Casper as its target, and detailed what local law enforcement called a “nontraditional” plan of attack. The threat referenced the use of kitchen knives, several firearms, a wooden stake made out of hickory and the author’s truck “if the opportunity arises.”
Reports of the online threat — posted on a message board-style website — began flooding the Casper Police Department about 7 a.m. Monday, according to Sgt. Deahn Amend.
The resulting police investigation prompted a Natrona County School District “Level 2” lockdown that lasted about an hour, during which schools operated business as usual with locked entrances and exits. By 10 a.m., the police department reported the lockdown lifted, and the school day continued with “heightened awareness,” according todirector of student support services Dean Braughton
By about 1:30 p.m., Casper police responding to inquiries on the department’s public information line were reporting the threat as “lifted.” The Casper Police Department reported the Oklahoma arrest shortly before 4 p.m., saying in a press release, “We do feel confident that the threat has been handled.”
Federal agents in Oklahoma apprehended the suspect, who is believed to have no ties to Wyoming. Officials believe the anonymous post was randomly directed toward Casper, according to the release.
Natrona County Emergency Management officials activated the county’s CodeRED community notification system about 9:40 a.m. Monday, alerting roughly 30,000 county residents and businesses of the potential threat via automated phone calls, text messages and emails. The message included the police investigation and countywide school lockdown, and directed questions to a police department public information line.
Emergency Management Coordinator Lt. Stewart Anderson said his department decides on a “case-by-case basis” when and how to use the CodeRED alert system. Anderson said his department used the system during Casper’s Sheepherder Hill fire in 2012, and that it’s “one more way to get out some information to the public.”
Details on the arrest were slim Monday, as Amend declined to release further information until a Tuesday morning press briefing.
“We don’t know if it’s a serious threat, or if it’s somebody thinking this is a clever act. But we do take these things seriously,” Amend said.