An Oak Harbor man was arrested Friday for phoning in a fake bomb threat to Sandusky High School and making several other threats to area schools and members of the public, police said.
Charles Tingler, 22, of North Leutz Road, was charged with one count of inducing panic, a second-degree felony.
Tingler’s alleged threats spanned four northern Ohio counties: Erie, Ottawa, Sandusky and Lucas.
Those include bomb or gun threats this week at Sandusky High School, Oak Harbor middle and high schools, Port Clinton Middle School and Waite High School in Toledo.
Tingler also called in reports of a man carrying a suitcase full of explosives on East Oldgate Road and Wamajo Drive in Sandusky, as well as a report of a man carrying a gun to the Fremont Walmart, Ottawa County Deputy Don St. Clair said.
Tingler attended both Sandusky and Oak Harbor high schools for a brief period of time, officials said.
St. Clair and Ottawa County deputies partnered with Sandusky police detectives Dana Newell and Jon Huffman in a joint investigation.
They tracked Tingler down through phone records, as all of the threats were made on Tingler’s cellphone, St. Clair said. Tingler allegedly used an app or mobile website to “spoof” other phone numbers, making it appear as if the threats were made from multiple numbers. He also used a voice-scrambling program to further mask his identity, investigators said.
After officers descended on Tingler’s home Friday morning and brought him in for questioning, Tingler was forthcoming about making the threats.
He was remorseful, St. Clair said, so much so that he almost began to cry. Tingler said he was heavily involved in social media, and made the first threat after conversing with a school-aged child who said they did not want to attend school that day.
“He decided he’d help them out, I guess,” St. Clair said. But Tingler’s motives boiled down to a prank.
“He was just having fun,” St. Clair said. “It was just gonna be a few pranks and then on his own admission said, ‘I took it too far.’”
St. Clair has no mental health issues officers are aware of and has no adult criminal history, police said.
Officials plan to bring the case before a grand jury for further possible charges, but his current charge already carries the possibility of eight years in prison, Ottawa County prosecutor Mark Mulligan said.
Tingler is currently being held in the Ottawa County jail.