Suspect arrested for threats at OL St. Mary's Festival

Detroit teen charged with domestic terrorism for threats against Polish Fair; other incidents erupt

By: Sherri Kolade | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published May 30, 2013

 A 16-year-old Detroit resident allegedly is behind posting a picture of himself with a gun on Instagram, making threats toward the St. Mary’s Polish Country Fair.

A 16-year-old Detroit resident allegedly is behind posting a picture of himself with a gun on Instagram, making threats toward the St. Mary’s Polish Country Fair.

Photo courtesy of the Oakland County Sherriff’s Office

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ORCHARD LAKE — Fights, arrests, threats and a domestic terrorism social media scare involving a gun seemingly overshadowed what was intended to be an idyllic 42nd-annual Orchard Lake St. Mary’s Polish Country Fair in Orchard Lake on Memorial Day weekend.

A 16-year-old Detroit boy was charged with domestic terrorism in connection with the events, according to an Oakland County Sherriff’s Office press release.

The press release stated that calls were made to the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office and the Orchard Lake Police Department after parents and others reportedly noticed someone posting threats on Twitter and Instagram against the Orchard Lake St. Mary’s Festival shortly before the festival was scheduled to be held.

“The threats consisted of several photos showing a handgun, an assault rifle and a photo of several fully loaded high-capacity magazines for a handgun,” the press release states.

“Each of the photos made a reference to the Orchard Lake St. Mary’s Festival.”

One of the photos shows someone holding a gun with a message underneath that states: “We can’t wait till st. marys fair.”

On May 24, the Oakland County Prosecutor’s Office authorized and granted an arrest warrant against the Detroit resident for domestic terrorism, a 20-year felony. Investigators arrested him in Detroit.

The next day, an arraignment was held at Children’s Village in Pontiac. The reading of the charges was waived; the teen — whose name was not released — was held without bond at Children’s Village until the next hearing, scheduled for June 5.

Undersheriff Michael McCabe did not return phone calls by press time.

According to the release, the Oakland County Sheriff’s Intelligence Investigators identified the teenager, who allegedly posted a picture of himself holding the handgun on Twitter, which started the investigation.

Several search warrants were executed by the Oakland County Sheriff’s Computer Crimes Unit, and information was gathered concerning the threat, the release said.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Oakland County Violent Gangs Task Force has an investigator involved in the case, and task force members interviewed the suspect at his house in Detroit.

The suspect allegedly admitted to making one of the Twitter threats with a firearm, which belongs to his mother’s friend and was not in the house at the time of the interview, according to the report.

Sheriff Michael Bouchard said in the statement that threats against a family event “will not be tolerated.”

Orchard Lake Police Chief Joe George said his department and the Oakland County Sherriff’s Office were in charge of police protection at the fair, which he described as “business as usual.”

He said he knew of four to five fights that broke out, and in comparison to the thousands of people in attendance, nothing was out of the ordinary, and police abated many potential dangers.

“We had information, along with the county getting all kinds of people posting weapons and using the social media,” he said.

George said his department is working on the possibility of going for a warrant on another subject who reportedly posted similar messages of threat directed at the fair.

He added that next year, the fair plans to not admit people after 6 p.m. unless they are at least 18 years old — with identification — or have adult supervision.

George said a few fights and a rash of cellphone thefts occurred.

He said a number of teenagers from neighboring cities attended the fair to cause problems. 

“(I’m) not saying we would never have a problem (with our residents), but people coming here strictly to create a problem … those are the people we are going to concentrate on and do our best to control.”

Keego Harbor Police Chief Kenneth Hurst said his officers surveyed the outskirts of the fair, where trouble also ensued.

Nine police officers were working the fair at about 9:35 p.m. May 24 when sheriff’s deputies escorted 10 people out of the fair; Keego Harbor police officers saw a 17-year-old Pontiac boy rushing at officers and went in to help. Another 17-year-old Keego Harbor resident pushed a Keego officer, and when the officer told him to move back, he did not, Hurst said. After a few warnings, the Keego teenager was Tasered, arrested and taken to Oakland County Jail.

The Keego teen was arraigned May 28 in 48th District Court on assault and resisting and obstructing a police officer, a 2-year felony, Hurst said. His bond was set at $3,000 or 10 percent. He was also issued a citation for disorderly conduct.

St. Mary's Preparatory Headmaster Jim Glowacki said he was pleased with how the fair turned out.

“Obviously, ­­­the weather was wonderful,” he said. “We had record attendance. We believe people came out and had a good time.”

He said that even though a “couple minor incidences” took place, considering that there roughly 120,000 people who came out, all was well.

“It was probably blown out of proportion by our social media,” he said.

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