An Ohio man was charged with making a “vague and unspecified threat to create a mass casualty incident” in Shorewood earlier this month.
Ryan James Gagnet, 22, was charged in the U.S. District Court in the Northern District of Ohio with making an interstate communication of threat to injure, according to a criminal complaint.
The Shorewood Police Department notified the public of the anonymous threat found on social media on Feb. 5. Police later said investigators determined there was no credible threat to the village.
On Feb. 5, the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Chicago office found that someone on Twitter posted a photograph of a conversation they had with an anonymous user on the chat platform Omegle, according to the complaint. The anonymous user wrote, “Hi. It’s going to be even more scary tomorrow. Because I’m going to be on the news. Commit a mass shooting. In shorewood Illoinis(.)”
An initial investigation determined the user who made the post resided in Maumee, Ohio, according to a FBI news release.
On Feb. 6, the user of the Twitter account was identified and interviewed, according to the complaint. The user said they chatted with the anonymous Omegle user for about three minutes on Feb. 4 and confirmed receiving the threat.
The next day, the FBI identified the anonymous Omegle user’s internet protocol address and later determined Gagnet was the likely user. Agents interviewed him at his residence, the complaint said.
He told the agents, “Maybe 3 days ago ... I went on Omegle ... I was wearing a mask, and I was telling people that ah that there may be a mass shooting at some point ... then I would just see how ah their frightened reactions,” according to the complaint.
Gagnet also told agents he spoke to “a dozen or so” users, would ask them if they wanted to see his face and then said they would see his face on the news. He also indicated there would be disturbing searches on his electronic devices.
Gagnet was arrested and booked at the Lucas County Corrections Center on Feb. 10 and remains in custody, according to the Lucas County Sheriff’s Office.
Shorewood Deputy Police Chief Eric Allen provided information to investigators about the impact the threat had on the village. He said meetings and essential duties involving the police department were canceled, officers’ shifts were changed and 10 officers working overtime cost the village about $1,872, according to the complaint.
Shorewood police said it decided to “act with an abundance of caution” after the threat was discovered, due to the lack of specific information or intentions of the poster,” according to a Feb. 5 news release.
In addition, Allen said, the notification to local schools about the threat “created panic.” Nearly all the schools operated on a soft lockdown for two days due to the threat.
“As a result, the Shorewood Police Department became overwhelmed with calls and demands for information from the public regarding the threat,” the complaint said.
Shorewood Police Chief Aaron Klima said in an email statement he hoped Gagnet’s arrest would “provide a sense of peace and normalcy to the community.”
The FBI’s Cleveland Division, the Toledo Resident Agency’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, the Maumee Police Department and the Lucas County Sheriff’s Office worked with Shorewood police on the case
“Citizens need to be able to go about their everyday lives without the fear of being a victim of a mass shooting,” FBI Special Agent in Charge Eric Smith said in the release.