A YOUNG father was remanded in custody after being accused of threatening to kill 200 Americans on Facebook.
Reece Elliott, 24, from South Shields, South Tyneside, is alleged to caused panic in Tennessee after anonymous postings triggered a huge security operation in the state’s Warren County.
Elliott’s mother, Jeanette Elliott, of Foss Way, South Shields, attended his first court hearing held at South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court.
Former Mortimer Comprehensive School pupil Elliott is charged with making threats to kill and making a malicious communication.
He has been remanded in custody until Wednesday, when he will be brought back to court.
He was arrested on Friday on suspicion of making the alleged threats after posts were left on a memorial page for a girl who was killed in a Tennessee road accident led to thousands of children being kept off school in the Warren County area of the state on Thursday.
An anonymous post made on Wednesday threatened a mass killing spree across Warren County saying: “My father has three guns. I’m planning on killing him first and putting him in a dumpster. Then I’m taking the motor and I’m going in fast. I’m gonna kill hopefully at least 200 before I kill myself.”
Elliott was staying at his mother’s home when police arrived to confiscate the computer.
Only weeks before he had split with his long-time girlfriend, who he was living with in Shrewsbury Terrace, South Shields, with their 20-month-old son. His former girlfriend, who did not want to be named, said: “He’s a great father. He loves taking him (our son) out. He would never hurt kids, he’s got a son of his own.”
Officers seized a computer and a mobile phone from the address in Shrewsbury Terrace. At court unemployed, Mr Elliott did not enter pleas to the charges and the case was sent to crown court.
Kevin Smallcombe, defending, said Elliott has no passport and no desire to visit Warren County, but Elliott was remanded into custody.
Elliott’s friends at Harton and Westoe Miners Wellfare in South Shields, where he is a member of the club’s darts team, also told of their shock.
The Department of Homeland Security in the US was informed of the posts and on Friday, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said its cyber rime agents were helping in the investigation.
Bobby Cox, director of Warren County Schools, said: “As most of you are aware, we received notice of violent threats directed at Warren County High School late Wednesday evening, February 6.
“We put an action plan together with the local authorities to ensure the safety of our schools and our campuses across the system. In the world we live today, we can never be too cautious and must take all threats seriously.”