A Bel Air woman has been indicted for allegedly issuing a false bomb threat via social media against C. Milton Wright High School last week, according to court records and the Harford County Sheriff's Office.
A Harford County grand jury issued an indictment Tuesday against Lydia Capirichio, 19, of the 800 block of Hayden Way in Bel Air. According to online court records, Capirichio is charged with one count of making a false statement – destructive device — a felony count — and one count of disturbing school operations, a misdemeanor.
Sheriff's office spokeswoman Cristie Kahler said Thursday morning Capirichio had not yet been served with a writ of summons detailing the criminal charges, but also explained law enforcement officers have a week to serve her following the indictment.
A woman who answered the phone at Capirichio's home late Wednesday and who identified herself as Capirichio's grandmother, said Capirichio was at work. Capirichio did not return the message left with her.
According to a Sheriff's Office news release, deputies learned of the threat, which was reported by a concerned citizen, at 7:20 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 9. The threat was made via the Yik Yak social media application, according to the release.
Deputies contacted Harford County Public Schools officials, and police and school staffers searched the building that night, but they did not find anything out of order.
Deputies also searched the school again the next morning, but they did not find anything; however, police presence and school security were increased during the beginning of the school day Oct. 10.
"As soon as it was determined that the building was safe, the school day continued with added security measures and personnel," Jillian Lader, manager of communications for HCPS, said Wednesday.
The Sheriff's Office did not say what led investigators to focus on Capirichio as a suspect.
"I can confirm that Count 1 of the indictment, False Statement – Destructive Device is a felony and has a maximum penalty of 10 years incarceration and/or a $10,000 fine," Assistant State's Attorney David W. Ryden explained in an email. "That statute also has a specific provision for the ordering of restitution to a government entity for costs incurred in responding to and searching for a destructive device."
"Count 2, Disturbing Activities at School is a misdemeanor and has a maximum penalty of six months incarceration and/or a $2,500 fine," Ryden said.
"I applauded the work of the community to bring this incident to a safe resolution," Sheriff Jesse Bane said in a statement. "In this case, everything went right; from the concerned citizen who reported the threat, to the swift and coordinated efforts of the deputies and Harford County Public Schools ensuring our schools remain safe and secure."
Yik Yak is a free downloadable application, through which users can anonymously post short, random thoughts, that can be read by other Yik Yak users using smartphones.
"Get a live feed of what everyone's saying around you," a tag line on the Yik Yak website, http://www.yikyakapp.com, states.
The app is geared toward college campuses, and the Ride The Yak 2014 Fall Campus Tour is taking place around the nation this fall, according to the website.
The app has been co-opted by college and high school students for darker purposes, though; a 20-year-old Penn State student was arrested after he threatened to carry out a mass shooting – he told police the threat was a hoax – by a message posted on Yik Yak, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported Tuesday.
Yik Yak and similar anonymous social media apps have been used to bully students, teachers and staff at a high school in the Charlotte, N.C. area, The News & Observer of Raleigh, N.C., reported in July.