Ada County sheriff's deputies, working with the FBI and officers from Meridian's and Boise's police departments, arrested a 16-year-old boy in connection with more than a dozen threats to Treasure Valley schools and businesses.
The boy and an Australian teenager allegedly worked together via online chats to make the threats. They met eight months ago through online gaming, and detectives said that the two coordinated their calls over the gaming channels.
Authorities say the Meridian teen provided the target locations and phone numbers for the schools and businesses. The Australian teen then made the calls through a computer network.
"While there is nothing to suggest that this (Meridian) teenager had the means to carry out these threats, it is clear that he intended to continue making the calls and had plans to escalate the impact of those calls by involving medical facilities," said Ada County sheriff's detective Sgt. Steve Bartlett.
The two admitted to making calls to restaurants and other businesses prior to escalating the threats over the past few days.
The investigation began when a Meridian high school received a threatening call Wednesday. Schools in Boise, Kuna, Caldwell, Nampa and Twin Falls received bomb threats Thursday morning.
That evening, businesses in Boise and Meridian received similar calls. On Friday morning, schools and businesses in Boise, Meridian, Kuna and Eagle received threats, as did Boise State University.
By Friday afternoon, detectives were investigating a total of 17 threats made in Ada County alone.
Andrea Dearden, Ada County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman, said that after each threat was received, officers responded to determine whether a real danger existed. Schools and businesses were evacuated.
"These went well beyond a hoax or prank to what I would call domestic terrorist threats," said Meridian Police Chief Jeff Lavey. "From the emotional strain on teachers, students and parents, to the time and money expended by our officers and sales lost by businesses forced to evacuate, these threats take an incredible toll on our communities."
Sheriff's detectives received information Friday that led them to the Meridian teen, and deputies talked to him and his parents Friday night.
Deputies later took the boy into custody and booked him into the Ada County Juvenile Detention Center on charges of making a false report of explosives.
Ada County detectives are working with law enforcement in Orange, New South Wales, Australia, to confirm the other teen's involvement.
Authorities said they believe that the two teens are responsible for all of the threats but are continuing to investigate whether any other people were involved. Additional charges are possible.
"Making a threat is a felony whether you are a juvenile or adult. We take these calls very seriously. Anytime a threat is made, we will find the people responsible and hold them accountable," said Ada County Sheriff Gary Raney.
Anyone with more information about these threats or similar incidents should call the nonemergency dispatch at 377-6790 or Boise Area Crime Stoppers at 343-COPS (2677).