Kentucky man pleads guilty to threatening school shooting

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LEIXINGTON, Ky. (KT) --  An Anderson County man has pleaded guilty at U.S. District Court in Lexington to federal charges stemming from a school threat last year.


Dylan Lee Jarrell, 22, of Lawrenceburg, admitted in court Friday, that he transmitted a threatening communication in interstate commerce, committed cyberstalking, made a false statement to federal law enforcement officers, and possessed a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence.


According to his plea agreement, Jarrell admitted that in 2018, he began to plan and prepare to conduct an act of violence against occupants of Shelby County High School, which Jarrell had previously attended as a student. Over time, Jarrell also developed an alternative plan to kill an individual identified as D.B., and then kill himself, in a murder-suicide.  Jarrell took several actions in furtherance of the plans, including acquiring a firearm. 


In May 2018, using a Reddit account and user screen name later confirmed to be his, Jarrell posted public messages about previous mass school shootings, which evidenced a serious expression of his intent. Based on the Reddit posts, on May 30, 2018, a special agent from the FBI questioned Jarrell at his residence in Anderson County. Jarrell was warned it was a crime to lie to an FBI special agent. During the interview, Jarrell claimed not to have any knowledge about the Reddit posts or the user screen name.  At the time Jarrell made these statements, he knew them to be false. 


From July to September 2018, Jarrell made posts on Instagram using an account he created. On September 24, 2018, Jarrell transmitted a communication, via Instagram, to an account used by D.B., in which Jarrell threatened to commit an act of violence upon D.B. 


Jarrell also created and used an account under his own name on Facebook. On October 17, 2018, using Facebook, Jarrell sent two harassing messages to an account associated with a New Jersey woman.  The Defendant understood those communications would reasonably be expected to cause substantial emotional distress to her. 


On October 18, 2018, personnel from the FBI and Kentucky State Police responded to Jarrell’s residence in Anderson County, and questioned him about his Reddit and Facebook activities.  This time, Jarrell admitted he composed and sent the Reddit and Facebook messages.  Jarrell provided the law enforcement officers his cell phone, which revealed Jarrell’s plans to attack Shelby County High School and D.B.  Jarrell admitted to investigators that he formulated these plans and that he acquired the firearm in furtherance of the plans.            


“Dylan Jarrell manifested a clear intent to commit horrific acts of violence on innocent persons in our District and elsewhere,” said Robert M. Duncan, Jr., U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky. “Fortunately, because of the thorough work of dedicated law enforcement officers, Jarrell’s plans were thwarted and lives were almost certainly saved. I commend the law enforcement personnel involved in this investigation for their professionalism and commitment to keeping the public safe from harm. We are proud to stand with them in this continued fight.”


Jarrell is scheduled to be sentenced on April 1, 2020 at 11 a.m. He faces up to five years in prison on the threatening communication, cyberstalking, and false statement charges, and at least five years on the firearms charge, consecutive to the other offenses.  He also faces a maximum fine of $250,000.

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