A former Gahanna-Lincoln High School student admitted today to a misdemeanor delinquency charge of inducing panic for posting an online video that some classmates considered threatening.
Spencer Pearson, 17, could be confined in the Juvenile Detention Center for 90 days but is eligible for probation when he is sentenced on May 10 by Franklin County Juvenile Court Magistrate Hanne Jorgensen.
“It was just a spur-of-the-moment kind of thing,” Pearson told the magistrate when asked to explain his actions. “I was just kind of angry that day.”
Asked what he was angry about, he said, “I just think over school things, just normal things. I just wasn’t having a good day, I guess.”
Originally charged with a felony-level delinquency count of inducing panic, he admitted to a lesser charge in a plea agreement with prosecutors.
The prosecutor’s office determined that the reduced charge was appropriate because the incident occurred during the Labor Day weekend and the school didn't have to be evacuated or closed, Assistant Prosecutor Kathy Press told the magistrate.
Pearson was arrested on Sept. 3 after police tracked several tweets and two YouTube videos to a computer in his home on Northwood Circle in Gahanna.
Authorities said his videos and messages spurred 200 calls to police from concerned parents and students.
The biggest stir was caused by a video in which a cartoonlike figure with a computer-generated or altered voice criticized Gahanna-Lincoln students for “how you live your lives.” The voice concluded, “Next time, I will have something more interesting to show you all.”
Press called the message “ominous.”
Defense attorney David Thomas said the message contained “no explicit threat.”
Pearson is enrolled in ECOT, an online school, and is getting straight As, his mother told the magistrate.
Jorgensen released him from house arrest while awaiting sentencing but imposed a 7 p.m. curfew.
By John Futty - The Columbus Dispatch, Ohio (MCT)
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