BROWNSVILLE, Texas – A federal grand jury has indicted an 18-year-old resident of Harlingen for making threats to damage federal and religious buildings, announced U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick.
Joel Hayden Schrimsher is charged in a six-count indictment, returned today, alleging he made threats through the internet to damage or destroy buildings and conveyed false or misleading information through the internet concerning those threats. He is expected to make his initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Ronald G. Morgan in Brownsville later this week.
Schrimser is the second young adult facing federal charges in less than a week related to making threats via social media platforms. A Corpus Christi 19-year-old was charged Oct. 24 after he made threats on his Facebook account.
“Parents must talk with their kids about the repercussions of making threats to schools and other public places,” said Patrick. “Law enforcement responses are thorough, time consuming and take finite resources to address.”
The indictment alleges Schrimsher made threats via his Twitter account indicating he intended to mail a bomb to the Federal Reserve, set a Mosque on fire and shoot at a Synagogue.
If convicted of making a threat to damage or destroy a building through the use of an instrument of interstate or foreign commerce, Schrimsher faces up to 10 years in federal prison, while conveying false or misleading information carries up to a five-year-term of federal imprisonment. Both charges could result in a $250,000 maximum possible fine.
The FBI, Cameron County District Attorney’s Office, police departments in Harlingen and Brownsville and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives conducted the investigation. Assistant U. S. Attorneys Jody Young and Oscar Ponce are prosecuting the case.
An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence.
A defendant is presumed innocent unless convicted through due process of law.