A burner phone wound up being the clue that helped police make an arrest in a threat that led to a Pennsylvania high school lockdown that cost taxpayers thousands of dollars.
Bethlehem Police Chief Mark DiLuzio announced Tuesday the arrest of Shae Quawn Najee Watson, 25, of Allentown, Pa.
Police say Watson was the man behind a series of phone calls claiming that there were three armed men at Liberty High School.
Authorities locked down the school's 2,100 students, faculty and staff for most of the afternoon on April 16.
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It was after noon when someone called into the Northampton County 911 call center saying three men with guns entered the high school in downtown Bethlehem. Officials then placed the high school under lockdown out of an abundance of caution, school officials told NBC10.com.
A large number of officers responded to the school and began searching for any sign of weapons or suspicious items.
As police searched the building more reports came in including one that a possible gunshot went off in the building.
Officers spent hours searching the building but turned up nothing and the lockdown was lifted around 4 p.m.
Once police figured out the whole thing was a hoax, they began to search for the person responsible.
It turned out the threats were made from a prepaid cellphone purchased at an area Walmart. The investigation targeted the search on Watson, according to police.
Late Monday, an Allentown police officer pulled over Watson and another young man. In the car were sunglasses and clothing worn by one of those men when he purchased the burner phone, according to police.
A further investigation of a home turned up the burner phone and box it came in, according to police.
Watson was arrested and charged with making terroristic threats, criminal conspiracy and related counts. He was arraigned and sent to Northampton County prison unable to post $100,000 bail, according to court records.
Police said the second person in the car wasn't charged.
The lockdown left a lasting mark, according to DiLuzio
"The total cost to City of Bethlehem taxpayers, because of this fake call or hoax, is being calculated and is expected to be in the thousands of dollars," DiLuzio said in a press release. "The emotional cost of this event to students, teachers, staff and parents can not be calculated in the same manner."
Liberty High School junior Oliver Taylor tweeted a photo of himself and classmates sitting on the floor in a hallway with a police officer keeping watch. Taylor said there were reports of a gun in the school and that he and other students were patted down by police. He said officers also searched bags.