DANVERS — A Boxford teenager admitted yesterday to sending text messages last summer threatening to blow up the offices of Essex Agricultural and Technical High School and shoot a fellow student.
Tyler Huntress, 17, who at the time was upset by the school’s apparent failure to respond to his complaints of being bullied, pleaded guilty during a hearing in Salem District Court to a charge of making threats to commit a crime.
Under a plea agreement worked out between prosecutor James Gubitose and defense attorney Alex Cain, a more serious charge of making a bomb threat was dropped. Huntress will spend two years on supervised probation, with conditions that include 100 hours of community service, random tests for drugs or alcohol, continued counseling, staying away from the school and having no contact with the witnesses, including a once-close friend.
Gubitose said the friend became increasingly concerned by the anger and references to violence in messages she received from Huntress last summer. After receiving one message that said he was going to “burn the Aggie to the ground and bomb the office,” she went to police, Gubitose said.
The girl was concerned not only about her classmates and teachers, Gubitose said, but for Huntress, as well.
But the situation “has taken a big toll on her,” said the prosecutor, who said the girl remains anxious and troubled by what Huntress said.
Cain said his client is sorry.
“This is something my client deeply regrets,” Cain said. “He wants to put this behind him.”
Cain noted that his client had no history of trouble, pointing to his involvement in the Boy Scouts, his volunteer work with veterans and a project restoring the gravesites of veterans.
And though police did seize some knives, they found no means of carrying out his specific threats in Huntress’ home, Cain said outside court.
Huntress no longer attends the Aggie; he told Judge Robert Brennan that he now attends Clark School.
The judge asked why Huntress’ case remained in the district court, given a change in the law that took effect shortly after his arrest last year that made 17-year-olds juveniles. Many of the cases in which those teens were charged as adults are being moved to the juvenile court as a result of the new law.
But the judge ultimately agreed to go along with the negotiated plea deal.
Courts reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, via email at email@example.com or on Twitter @SNJulieManganis.