Chapel Hill News

Judge sets curfew for teens accused in school threat posted to Twitter

Caleb Etheridge
Caleb Etheridge

A lawyer appeared on behalf of two Chapel Hill High School students who waived their first appearance in court Tuesday in connection with a threat against a school that was posted to social media.

Stepbrothers Shane Ryan Long, 17, and Caleb James Etheridge, 16, both of Bolin Creek Drive in Carrboro, were arrested Monday and charged with false report of mass violence, which is a felony.

Assistant District Attorney Jeff Nieman, reading from a warrant in court, said Long had sent a Snapchat picture to Etheridge showing two boxes of ammo with caption, “Ready to shoot the school up!!”

Etheridge posted the same message to his Twitter account, according to the warrant.

The post came to light after a parent who saw another Twitter post on Etheridge’s feed contacted Estes Hills Elementary School officials, police spokesman Lt. Josh Mecimore said.

The Twitter post that the parent reported included a photo of Estes Hills students that originally had been posted to the school’s Twitter feed. The photo of the students reposted on Etheridge’s Twitter feed had an “inappropriate” caption, Mecimore said.

While school officials were checking Etheridge’s Twitter feed, he said, they found the ammunition photo. School officials then contacted police, he said.

“I think that’s what made them suspicious, that an older kid was making a comment about a student at an elementary school,” Mecimore said. “We don’t necessarily think there was any indication they planned to carry out any threat.”

Attorney Amos Tyndall, who represented Long and Etheridge in court Tuesday, declined to comment about the case but said the high school could take disciplinary action against the teens.

They were released Monday to a parent’s custody. Etheridge’s Twitter account has been deleted.

District Court Judge Beverly Scarlett has ordered them to abide by a 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. curfew, attend school every day, complete all of their class assignments and follow the school’s rules and regulations.

They cannot “for any reason possess any firearm, weapons or explosive device” or ammunition, she said.

Police are continuing to investigate the incident, Mecimore said. The teens are due back in court Jan. 8.

Tammy Grubb: 919-829-8926, @TammyGrubb