December 20, 2014

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North Ridgeville’s man alleged threat against school wasn’t first incident

Nicholas Hinton

Nicholas Hinton

NORTH RIDGEVILLE — A North Ridgeville man arrested March 21 for threatening violence at North Ridgeville High School via his Instagram account was expelled during his senior year for a similar threat, court records show.

A copy of a search warrant, filed Wednesday in Lorain County Common Pleas Court, said Nicholas Hinton, 19, told officers he never intended to follow through on his post from March 20 in which he said he was “contemplating shooting up the school.’’

Rather, he told officers the posting was a way of making fun of others who said he was going to shoot up the school when he was a senior during the 2012-13 year.

Hinton said that incident also was joke, according to court paperwork.

Hinton was charged with inducing panic, a fourth-degree felony, and aggravated menacing, a misdemeanor, less than an hour after police were made aware of the threat by North Ridgeville High School Principal Tom Szendrey about 6 a.m. March 21.

Hinton allowed police to search his cell phone, according to the search warrant. He also informed officers that he had looked for gun shops the month before in an effort to buy a gun, but said he wanted to buy one legally once he started working and earning money, according to the search warrant.

Police verified Hinton had visited a gun store website, the court filing showed.

Police Capt. Marti Garrow said Wednesday that authorities believe Hinton acted alone in the March incident. Garrow also said police did not locate any weapon at the time of his arrest.

Hinton’s case has been bound over to a county grand jury for consideration.

The Instagram message posted by Hinton last month was accompanied by a photo of himself wearing a hoodie, with his hand under his chin, and a finger pointed up.

A few hours after posting the message, Hinton removed the comment after realizing it was not a good decision, police said.

During an interview by Police Lt. Greg Petek following his arrest, Hinton said his comment was intended as a joke.

Hinton told Petek he harbored “hard feelings” against the high school and the administration for expelling him “for something he and his friends were not serious about,” according to a description of the police interview contained in the search warrant.

Hinton also told police he believed administrators overreacted to a video made by a friend which Hinton posted to YouTube during his senior year. In that video, the friend stated “we’re going to go to the school and shoot them,” the search warrant said.

Hinton told police the video threat was mistakenly perceived by others to be serious, and that the reference to “them” was construed to mean administrators.

Hinton removed the video on orders from school officials, but later re-posted it. Hinton was expelled when school administrators discovered it was back online.

Contact Steve Fogarty at 329-7146 or sfogarty@chroniclet.com.