Galloway man charged in bomb threat at Lower Cape May Regional

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LOWER TOWNSHIP – Officials announced the arrest of a Galloway man Tuesday on charges that he posted a comment on the YouTube video site about placing a bomb at the Lower Cape May Regional High School.

Cape May County Prosecutor Robert L. Taylor and Lower Township Police Chief William Mastriana said Richard Merkel, 23, was charged with the third degree crime of false public alarm. The arrest stems from an investigation involving the Cape May County Prosecutor’s Office High Tech Crimes Unit, the Lower Township Police Department, the U.S. Secret Service and the Galloway Township Police Department. 

On Monday, Oct. 7, Lower Township police received a phone call from a citizen who them about comments that had been posted on the YouTube website. Police determined that someone had made threats about placing a bomb at the Lower Township Regional High School. The video connected to the postings had no connection to the school or Cape May County, police said. 

The investigation led detectives to Merkel's residence on the 700 block of South Second Street in Galloway. Merkel was charged and released on a summons.

A search of his residence was conducted, but no evidence of bomb-making material or weapons was found. Policdedetermined that Merkel has no ties to Lower Township Regional High School and had randomly chosen the location for his post, according to a press release.

In the press release, Taylor urged the public to remain vigilant and report all threats to their local police department. The interruptions in education caused by bomb threats as well as the additional cost associated with emergency response activities and the deployment of first responders to fabricated events, making them unavailable for other emergencies, significantly affects the community as a whole, he stressed.

Taylor commended all agencies involved in the investigation and highlighted the fact that the initial caller, who is not a New Jersey resident, alerted law enforcement, which quickly led to the arrest of Merkel. He said citizens of Cape May County should report any information regarding criminal activity within their community.

Information can be reported anonymously through the Cape May County Sheriffs Tip Line at cmcsheriff.net and clicking on anonymous tip, or through the Cape May County Crime Stoppers at 465-2800 or 877-465-2801, Cape May County Prosecutor’s Office Tip Line at 463-5323.

 


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