WILKES-BARRE – City police arrested a Luzerne man who allegedly sent a text message to a stranger's cellphone this week, threatening to blow up two area high schools.
The text was traced to William H. Hoffman, 41, of Bennett Street, who was charged with threatening to use weapons of mass destruction and making terroristic threats. He was arraigned by District Judge Rick Cronauer in Wilkes-Barre and jailed at the Luzerne County Correctional Facility for lack of $1 million bail.
Hoffman allegedly sent the text message Thursday night. According to the criminal complaint, the message stated: I am going to shoot up everyone I see on Watkins St. tomorrow. Initially I was going to blow up GAR and WVW but I changed my mind. So u better go the hell to school tomorrow. Signed…random mysterious psychotic killer.
Hoffman sent a second message, the complaint alleges, which read: Sorry that was a bad joke to the wrong number oops.
George Isaacs received the text messages when he woke up Friday morning, police said. He took his phone to Kingston Township police in light of last week's mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., where 20 children and six staff members were killed.
Township police Chief James Balavage notified police in Kingston, Plymouth, Swoyersville, Wilkes-Barre and the Wilkes-Barre Area School District.
GAR High School is in Wilkes-Barre and Wyoming Valley West High School is in Plymouth.
Andrew Kuhl, Wilkes-Barre Area's director of secondary education, called the cell number and advised a man to go to Wilkes-Barre Police Headquarters.
Police allege in the complaint that Hoffman arrived at police headquarters at 10:15 a.m. He told city detectives he intended to send the test message to his girlfriend's 15-year-old daughter, police said.
The cell number for the daughter and Isaacs differ by only one digit.
Hoffman allegedly admitted he sent the text, believing that the daughter would not recognize his cell number and she did not want to go to school on Friday, the complaint says.
Police said about 900 students and 60 school staff members were evacuated from GAR when it was searched Friday morning.
Wilkes-Barre Area Superintendent Bernard Prevuznak and Wyoming Valley West Superintendent Chuck Suppon did not return calls for comment Friday.