Police Thwart School Threat in Hazleton

HAZLETON, Pa. -- Police in Hazleton say a tip helped stop a potential threat against two schools in the Hazleton Area School District, and now, one man is in custody.

Investigators say the mayor received a tip on Saturday morning which led them to check on a threat made against the Arthur Street School and Hazleton Area High School.

City officials say they worked around the clock Saturday to make an arrest before school started on Monday. Hazleton police say it was a threat they immediately took seriously.

It all started with a text message containing what authorities called a manifesto threatening a shooting and the use of pipe bombs at two Hazleton Area schools.

"I received a text message from a citizen of Hazleton that his daughter had received an alarming text message. He forwarded me a copy of it. I read it, and I immediately contacted the chief and the rest of our command staff," Hazleton Mayor Jeff Cusat said.

Within minutes, Hazleton police were on the move, searching the streets and filing for electronic search warrants to locate the person who made the threat.

"We were able to specifically pinpoint where the individual was, and at 9:15, were able to pinpoint that individual right to 6th Street and Church, and at that point, the units converged on the individual," explained Hazleton Police Chief Jerry Speziale.

Police say Christian Diehl, 28, of Hazleton, made the threats to use bombs at Arthur Street School as a diversion from a mass shooting at Hazleton Area High School.

Diehl later said the threat was a joke. Hazleton police did not take it lightly.

"I think that someone jokes about hurting children, with what we've seen in our nation with mass shootings, that's a poor joke, and I think that's somebody who needs to be evaluated," Speziale said.

Community members say they are grateful for the quick action of police but say they also owe thanks to the person who reported the tip.

"I was thankful to whoever that concerned citizen is for doing what they did because if they didn't, it might have happened," said Judy Wesner of McAdoo.

School will be in session as usual on Monday at all schools in the Hazleton Area School District.

Diehl was locked up in the Luzerne County jail, charged with threatening to use weapons of mass destruction.

2 comments

  • Bob Stevens

    This is called See Something, Say something… it works when people do their job.
    We don’t need unconstitutional Red flag Laws.

Comments are closed.

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