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Salem man held on $500,000 bond after threatening school attack

Friday, August 24, 2012

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"Our stomachs were just in knots. With school starting next week, we needed to get this wrapped up as quickly as possible," Salem Police Chief Al Roork said, describing a week-long investigation that led to the arrest of a man who threatened to go to Salem High School and shoot students.

22-year old Jacob Morley, a Salem High School graduate, was arrested on Aug. 13, and charged with Falsely Communicating a Terrorist Threat.

Morley was taken to the Izard County Detention Center and, on Thusday, Aug. 16, Judge Miller made a special trip to give him his first court appearance. The Judge set Morley's bond at $500,000.

According to an Arkansas State Police affidavit seeking an arrest warrant, Morley, a member of the National Guard, made the threatening comments to two other soldiers during a military drill at the Mountain Home Armory, on the weekend of Aug. 4.

Special Agent Todd Shaw's affidavit described the conversation: "While at the armory, Morley engaged in a conversation with two other soldiers in which he stated that, if he decided to commit suicide sometime within the next five years, he would go to the Salem, Ark. High School and shoot as many students as possible. Morley commented that he would do so to make the teachers suffer and have to live with what happened."

The soliders Morley spoke with told Shaw that the statement was not made as a joke, and he appeared "very serious" at the time the statement was made. The soldiers were concerned enough that they contacted commanding officers who confronted Morley about his statement and, according to the affidavit, he admitted making it, stating that he had found a place on the internet where he could order "booby traps," and he had attempted to purchase firearms from other soldiers assigned to his National Guard Unit.

"We are very pleased that this matter was taken seriously, and we appreciate the quick response by law enforcement," Salem School Superintendent Ken Rich said.

According to Rich, he was not aware of the threat against students until he was notified of Morley's arrest. Rich said Morley is a 2009 graduate of Salem High School.

The News spoke to several students who attended school with Morley. They described Morley as an intelligent classmate, who seemed introverted and kept to himself. Two acquaintences described Morley as "eerie."

A man who knows Morley described him as "an immature, young man," but said he did not consider Morley a threat, and was shocked to hear of his comments.

One source said Morley felt he was continually bullied in high school and teachers did nothing about it, which could be why Morley said he wanted to shoot students "to make teachers suffer and have to live with what happened."

Was Morley serious about an attack on Salem High School?

The charge of Falsely Communicating a Terrorist Threat is lodged against someone who falsely makes a threat to commit or cause a terrorist act or catastrophe.

Investigators have not indicated they have evidence that Morley was actively planning an immediate attack, but computers and guns were seized from Morley's home. According to Sheriff Buck Foley, additional charges are still possible as the investigation continues.

Morley was the father of a two year old son who mysteriously died in 2011. The boy was discovered not breathing and unresponsive in his bed on the morning of Feb. 26, 2011, at the home his mother shared with Morley in the Morrison area.

Fulton County Sheriff's investigators were told the boy was healthy and in good condition when he was put to bed the night before.

The body was transported to Little Rock for an autopsy by the state coroner's office.

The autopsy did not find any signs of abuse, and an official cause of death was not determined. The death was not handled as a criminal matter, however.

Sheriff Buck Foley said Morley is being held in a cell by himself, which is equipped with a camera so he can be monitored.

According to Foley, Morley did not threaten suicide to investigators, but the decision was made to closely monitor him, since he mentioned committing suicide in his conversation with the Guardsmen who reported his alarming comments about shooting Salem students.



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