It didn’t get anywhere near the level of attention it deserved (including from my news outlet), but South Carolina got some good news earlier this month when federal officials arrested a man who allegedly made multiple school shooting threats.
Jonathan Trent Patterson, 22, of Belton, South Carolina was arrested in early June after allegedly transmitting “multiple shooting threats relating to several schools in Anderson County,” according to a news release from the office of interim U.S. attorney Corey Ellis.
“This office aggressively investigates and, where appropriate, prosecutes threats of violence and acts of violence,” Ellis said in a statement. “This is especially true when anyone threatens harm against our schools, and recent events confirm these threats must be taken seriously.”
According to a probable cause affidavit (.pdf) submitted by agent Erin Carlisle of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Anderson County sheriff’s office was notified on April 18, 2022 of “threatening communications” received by officials at Belton–Honea Path high school in Honea Path, S.C.
Using a free fax service – FaxZero – someone allegedly sent a message to the school’s fax line which read, among other things, “I’m shooting up the school soon” and “I’m going to shoot up the school tomorrow bitches.”
The following afternoon – April 19 – a school employee received an email entitled “SHOOT UP THE SCHOOL” from a ProtonMail account allegedly belonging to Patterson.
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“I’M GOING TO SHOOT UP THE FUCKEN (sic) SCHOOL IF YOU DONT LET ME GRADUATE OR JUST BECAUSE I WANT TO LOL,” the message read.
Shortly thereafter that same afternoon, the employee received another message from the same ProtonMail address in which Patterson allegedly wrote “IVE HAD ENOUGH OF THIS FUCKEN (sic) SHITTY SCHOOL PREPARE TO DIE IM GOING TO SHOOT THIS MOTHER FUCKER UP.”
Two days later – on April 21 – multiple Anderson County school officials received a message allegedly from Patterson reiterating his threat to “shoot the school up.”
That email contained five attachments, one of which threatened to bomb the school – and which also contained a racial slur against blacks. In another attachment entitled “Hitlist,” Patterson allegedly threatened to take out “who ever the f*ck I can hit.”
In yet another attachment, entitled “F*ck,” Patterson allegedly had this to say …
What the f*ck did you just fucking say about me, you little bitch? I’ll have you know I graduated top of my class in the Navy Seals, and I’ve been involved in numerous secret raids on Al-Quaeda, and I have over 300 confirmed kills. I am trained in gorilla warfare and I’m the top sniper in the entire US armed forces. You are nothing to me but just another target. I will wipe you the f*ck out with precision the likes of which you have never been seen before on this Earth, mark my f*cking words. You think you can get away with saying that sh*t to me over the Internet? Think again, f*cker. As we speak I am contacting my secret network of spies across the USA and your IP is being traced right now so you better prepare for the storm, maggot. The storm that wipes out the pathetic little thing you call your life. Your life. You’re a f*cking dead, kid. I can be anywhere, anytime, and I can kill you in over 700 ways, and that’s just with my bare hands. Not only am I extensively trained in unarmed combat, but I have access to the entire arsenal of the United States Marine Corps and I will use it to its full extent to wipe your miserable ass off the face of the continent, you little shit. If only you could have known what unholy retribution your little “clever” comment was about to bring down upon you, maybe you would have held your fucking tongue. But you couldn’t, you didn’t, and now you’re paying the price, you goddamn idiot. I will shit fury all over you and you will drown in it. You are f*cking dead, kiddo.
(Click to view)
(Via: Anderson County Detention Center)
A month later – on May 18 – Patterson (above) allegedly made additional school shooting threats via FaxZero to Belton-Honea Path high school and to Tri-County Technical College in Pendleton, S.C.
Patterson is a former student at both schools – and was expelled from Tri-County in the spring of 2021.
The following week – on May 26 – another barrage of threats was made to multiple Upstate academic institutions, including one to Tri-County which prompted the college to cancel classes for the day.
At this point, a federal investigation into these threats was opened and the FBI began actively assisting the Anderson County sheriff’s office in its inquiries.
Patterson was interviewed on May 27 and told federal agents he “was being framed” by another former Tri-County student. According to Patterson, his former classmate was “responsible for (his) expulsion” from the school. Within hours of federal agents interviewing him, though, Patterson allegedly created a new email address and began attempting to transmit additional threats – including threats which contained the same racial slur against blacks.
These threats continued between May 28-30 and featured a growing list of targets – including one sent to Trumbull Career and Technical Center in Warren, Ohio.
On June 2, federal and local law enforcement executed a search warrant in Belton, S.C. which yielded “multiple computers, laptops, cellular telephones and other electronic devices.”
During the search, Patterson changed his tune and admitted that “he sent threatening emails, faxes and text messages to multiple individuals,” according to the affidavit.
“When asked why, Patterson stated he believed it would ‘be funny,’” the affidavit continued, adding he was “upset with (Tri-County) for expelling him from their program.”
Patterson’s case is being prosecuted by assistant U.S. attorneys Max Cauthen and Everett E. McMillian.
As with anyone accused of committing any crime, Patterson is considered innocent until proven guilty by our criminal justice system – or until such time as he may wish to enter some form of allocution in connection with a plea agreement with prosecutors related to any of the charges filed against him.
The affidavit didn’t say whether Patterson owned or had access to weapons – or whether he made any specific plans to carry out his alleged threats.
Does that matter? Yes and no … but given the volume, specificity and escalating nature of these threats, law enforcement had no option but to aggressively pursue them. Also, as we have seen on far too many occasions in our country, anyone has the potential to escalate.
Props to law enforcement (and to Ellis’ office) for getting to the bottom of these threats …
ABOUT THE AUTHOR …
Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven children. And yes, he has LOTS of hats (including that Buffalo Bisons’ lid pictured above).
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