SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

September 11, 2013

Teen charged with threatening to shoot Essex Aggie student, administrators

BY JULIE MANGANIS
STAFF WRITER

---- — DANVERS — A troubled Boxford teenager, angered by what he perceived as a failure to respond to his complaints of being bullied by classmates, allegedly threatened last month to shoot a fellow student and administrators at Essex Agricultural and Technical High School in Danvers, police said.

Tyler Huntress, 17, of 14 Pine Plain Road, had also made references to blowing up or burning down the school and dismembering and torturing classmates, in a series of text messages sent to his girlfriend, who went to police late last month, a Danvers police officer testified during a hearing on whether Huntress poses a danger if released.

Huntress was arrested last Tuesday at his home on a threats charge and was held without bail for a week, until yesterday’s hearing. He has pleaded not guilty.

Police seized a number of knives, as well as two computers, from the home and are continuing to investigate.

Following the hearing, Salem District Court Judge Matthew Nestor decided that while Huntress does pose a danger, he could be released on conditions that include a GPS monitoring bracelet and confinement to his home except to attend school.

Huntress was released from custody yesterday.

The threats came to the attention of police on Aug. 29, when Huntress’s girlfriend contacted police to report the threats.

She told Danvers Patrolman Stephen Baldassare that Huntress had threatened to show up at school on Sept. 2 with a gun and kill a classmate who he said had been bullying him, as well as administrators who, he felt, had failed to take his complaint seriously, the officer testified.

Huntress had reported the bullying at the end of the last school year, the officer said, but administrators told him they did not complete their investigation before classes ended for the school year.

Huntress had sent the girl numerous text messages over the summer, making various threats against administrators, students and the school, as well as threats to harm himself.

In one text message exchange in July, in which the girl advised him to “forget” the school, Huntress responded by saying, “I need revenge.”

The girl also told police she had seen a photo of Huntress holding a rifle or shotgun on Facebook, Baldassare testified.

Questioned by police after his arrest, Huntress admitted that he collects weapons, some purchased on Amazon, including a set of brass knuckles with a blade, a Bowie knife, and a Pakistan knife. Police found two of the knives, as well as three smaller folding knives, in the home and learned that Huntress’s parents had confiscated the brass knuckles and another weapon.

He also admitted that he was “very angry and upset” at the school and had “lashed out” by writing the bomb and arson threats, but said he was simply “venting,” the officer testified. Huntress denied threatening to shoot up the school.

The bullying, he told police, had “destroyed” him.

Prosecutor Lyndsey Legier acknowledged that the bullying and its effect on Huntress should be taken into account by the judge but said the violent nature of the threats and their escalation points to Huntress as a danger to others. She urged Nestor to keep Huntress locked up.

His attorney, Jeff Sweeney, said Huntress, a former Boy Scout with no prior record, was also struggling with his parents’ “very contentious divorce.”

Sweeney called Huntress “clearly, a very troubled young man,” who has been in therapy, but urged Nestor to release him, saying Huntress has spent the past week locked in the Middleton Jail’s infirmary.

Huntress is now attending The Clark School, a private school in Danvers, his attorney said.

Courts reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, via email at jmanganis@salemnews.com or on Twitter @SNJulieManganis.