Teen suspect ID’d in Coopersville swatting case

Ottawa County sheriff's deputies at Coopersville Area Schools after a lockdown. (Sept. 4, 2014)

WEST OLIVE, Mich. (WOOD) — Police have confirmed the lockdown that occurred last week at Coopersville Area Public Schools was a case of swatting and have identified one of the suspects as a 14-year-old former Coopersville student.

Coopersville Area Public Schools were placed on lockdown on Sept. 4 just after the middle school and high school let out for the day after someone made a threatening call to Ottawa County Central Dispatch. While authorities said the call was vague, the person who made it did threaten staff and students at the district.

Police had some idea that the call was bunk because it came to a non-emergency line and there was long digital delay in the conversation. Still, emergency personnel had no choice but to lock down campus and conduct a search for a threat that never existed.

After a sweep through school buildings, deputies found nothing suspicious. The lockdown was lifted after about an hour.

Authorities say the caller appeared to know specific information about the layout of the school. Wednesday, Capt. Mark Bennett of the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office said the 14-year-old from Coopersville was likely feeding information to the caller, who is believed to be outside the area and possibly living outside the United States.

“Our 14-year-old is being cooperative with our investigation but the 14-year-old is, I think, an acquaintance of the actual caller,” Bennett said. “To establish his true identity is going to take some work as it relates to the search warrants, and seeing if we can backtrack to an actual person instead of a screen name or some online persona.”

The 14-year-old may face felony charges, but Bennett says he will likely not be charged as an adult. It is possible he will be held responsible for the costs of his antics. Bennett said a conservative estimate for that could be in the tens of thousands of dollars.

“Because it is taking resources away from their normal activities, not to mention the peril it puts the general public in for us to respond to these incidents, and the safety of the officers as well,” Bennett said.

Sheriff’s detectives are working with state and federal law enforcement officials as the investigation continues.

Bennett also confirmed that a 54-year-old Pentwater man who police initially thought was a potential witness in the swatting is not connected to the case in any way.

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