published Wednesday, July 10th, 2013

British man sentenced to prison for threatening Warren County, Tenn., students on Facebook

A British judge on Tuesday sentenced a 24-year-old man to more than two years in prison for threatening on Facebook to shoot hundreds of Warren County (Tenn.) High School students earlier this year.

Reece Elliott pleaded guilty to making threats to kill and malicious communications, according to British police.

On Feb. 6, Elliott left anonymous malicious comments on a memorial page for a Warren County student who had died in October 2012, and he posted a threat on the same page to shoot area students that put local, federal and international authorities on his trail.

The next day, more than 2,900 Warren County students missed school. Law enforcers spent the day combing school buildings for any threat.

Bobby Cox, director of Warren County Schools, said Tuesday that he is happy to have the episode behind him.

"We're just happy that it's closed and we can move on," Cox said.

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He also said having Warren County Schools in the sights of a potential international gunman was unusual.

"I did think it was odd that it was someone outside the U.S.," he said. "How [Elliott] got the site, I don't know. It's very unfortunate."

Judge James Goss sentenced Elliott to two years and four months in prison, telling him the "grossly offensive" comments were driven by "no more than self-indulgent nastiness," The Associated Press reported.

Elliott, who wept upon sentencing, had written of killing his father first -- then "going in fast."

"I'm gonna kill hopefully at least 200 before I kill myself," he posted on the memorial page. "So you want to tell the deputy, I'm on my way."

The threat came amid heightened tensions after the school shooting in Newtown, Conn., that left 26 people dead.

Defense lawyer John Wilkinson told the judge at Newcastle Crown Court that Elliott could not explain his behavior, which the defendant called "idiotic, childish and pathetic."

Northumbria, England, police reported in a news release that the day the Warren County students missed school a South Shields, England resident reported Elliott wanted to turn himself in.

Police arrested him that day when he handed himself over at the police station.

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