A Pennsylvania man was sentenced to prison after transmitting a school shooting threat about an Ohio high school.
Russell Delano Miley-Cruz, from Scranton, Pennsylvania, was sentenced Tuesday to 18 months in prison and three years of supervised release for transmitting a school shooting threat about Parma High School. He was also ordered to reimburse the Parma Police Department for overtime hours incurred responding to this hoax threat.
“Posting threats to disrupt a school day is unlawful conduct under any circumstances, but especially where, like here, the defendant was in another state and then lied about his conduct to law enforcement,” said U.S. Attorney Justin Herdman. “Ensuring the safety of students, faculty, and school employees is a top priority for law enforcement in Northern Ohio. This defendant deserves every day of this 18 month sentence of imprisonment.”
“Making threats to commit a school shooting are not taken lightly by law enforcement as evidenced by this sentence handed down today,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Eric Smith. “Miley-Cruz induced fear in school personnel, students and their parents at Parma High School and wasted valuable law enforcement resources, and then he lied about being involved. Law enforcement would like to remind people to #thinkbeforeyoupost, hoax threats will be prosecuted.”
“After an exhaustive investigation conducted by members of the Parma Police Department as well as the FBI, we are hoping he receives a sentence which will send a message to others that this is not acceptable and this type of behavior will not be tolerated,” said Parma Police Chief Joseph M. Bobak.
According to evidence presented at sentencing, on April 11, 2018, Miley-Cruz, using the screenname “djravetastic,” sent a Snapchat message to a student he believed attended Parma High School, which stated: “Don’t go to Parma High School tomorrow friend, we are about to shoot that shit up alright man? Don’t tell the cops and you will be fine.”
Miley-Cruz claimed to have received the threat himself and was merely forwarding it to the student. Five minutes later, Miley-Cruz sent the student another Snapchat message and told her to tell her friends “because it could save lives,” and added that two of his friends got the same message in Ohio and Tennessee, respectively.
Miley-Cruz sent multiple Snapchat messages urging the student to share the threat with her friends. The student shared the message containing the threat with a friend who then shared it via Snapchat.
Thereafter, the threat spread among Parma High School students. The following day, April 12, 2018, approximately 1200 students called out of school with only 340 students attending out of 1553 total Parma High School students.
Prior to transmitting the threat, Miley-Cruz created an account on a virtual private network (VPN) site for encrypted communications. On April 10, 2018, a day before he transmitted the threat, Miley-Cruz searched for and installed an application on his phone that allowed him to mask and manipulate his caller ID to reflect a different phone number than his own.
Approximately an hour later, Miley-Cruz received a text from a fake phone number. On April 10, 2018, Miley-Cruz searched “How to share other people’s snaps” and clicked on an article titled “Update: how to send other people’s snaps on snapchat.” Miley-Cruz visited the same article three times within three hours. On April 11, 2018, Miley-Cruz installed an application on his phone that deletes internet search history. Approximately three minutes later, Miley-Cruz search for “Snap History Eraser” and “Snapchat Message Eraser.”
During the investigation, Miley-Cruz provided a fake phone number to the Parma Police, denied knowing anyone who lived in Parma, and denied any knowledge of a school shooting threat to students at Parma High School. Within minutes after speaking with a Parma Police Detective, Miley-Cruz called the Detective back, claiming to have received another school shooting threat.
This threat, like the original threat, came from a fake phone number. Finally, Miley-Cruz created a fake Facebook profile utilizing an actual Parma High School student’s image and commented on local media stories taking credit for the school shooting threat.
This case was investigated by the Parma Police Department, the Scranton, Pennsylvania Police Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys John C. Hanley and Robert J. Patton.