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New Zealand girl tips FBI to threat

Norwin student talked of violence in Internet chat

Wednesday, March 28, 2001

By Joel Rosenblatt, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

A tip from a 16-year-old New Zealand girl about a threat of violence a Norwin High School student made over the Internet led to the boy's suspension from school, police said yesterday.

North Huntington Police Chief Charles Henaghan said that FBI agents told him on March 20 about comments the North Huntingdon boy made online, at http://www.teenhelp.org/, an organization dedicated to helping troubled teens, earlier this month.

The boy, who identified himself in the conversation as "Shyguy" wound up talking online to Tarryn Pitzer, a 16-year-old New Zealand girl who works as a "peer mentor" for Teenhelp.

Pitzer, reached yesterday by telephone in New Zealand, said that Shyguy told her he would "kill 1,600 students and his parents, instead of 13."

Pitzer said she thought Shyguy was referring to another school shooting, but said she didn't know which one. Two students killed themselves and 13 fellow students at Colorado's Columbine High School in April 1999.

Pitzer said the teen also talked of making students "blind, cutting off their hands, and mutilation."

Henaghan, after being contacted by FBI agents on March 20, went to Norwin Senior High School, where he met with school administrators. The boy was suspended the same day.

"I talked to the [school] administration," he said. "There was a threat assessment, and we took action to neutralize any possible threat there could have been."

Henaghan said, however, he doubts whether the boy would have actually acted on his threats.

He said the teenager was "a young kid that was spouting off, and that there was no real threat. What we have here is a young boy that did something very stupid."

However, given other recent shootings at schools nationwide, Henaghan said, "you never take anything like this lightly."

Henaghan said he is working with Westmoreland County District Attorney's office and is waiting for a written report from the FBI to determine whether or not to file charges against the boy.

Word of the threat came to Pittsburgh FBI agents via authorities in Australia, Henaghan said.

Pitzer said the boy told her that victims of previous school shootings deserved their fate and anyone who crossed his path would suffer a "fate worse than death." He also told her he had access to firearms.

"I used to try to love others, but all they did was ridicule me," Pitzer said the boy wrote.

He also wrote that he worshipped "Aeshma." When Pitzer asked what that was he said he was "a demon god of fury like Persian religion and mythology."

Pitzer, speaking from her home in Waiuku, a rural town about 40 miles from Auckland, said she does not often hear teens talking about violence in the manner the North Huntingdon teen did.

"Often in discussing school shootings people mention how it's upsetting -- not that they want to do that."

Pitzer was alarmed enough to tell her mother, who called police. A local constable came to their house and once he saw what was going on, the constable contacted Interpol, and hovered over her shoulder while she conversed online with the teen for about an hour.

She obtained the boy's name and his e-mail address, which was forwarded to the FBI.

Bill Crowley, a spokesman for the FBI in Pittsburgh, said he had no comment and referred all queries to North Hungtingdon police.

Robert Perkins, president of the Norwin school board, confirmed that a student had been suspended, but would not release the student's name.

He said he knew of an "incident where there were some threatening e-mails sent to New Zealand" and that a hearing for the student was pending before the school district's administration.

Pitzer said the FBI recently contacted her and congratulated her for her help.



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