Arrest made in ESJ case

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Arson threat could get teen 15 years in prison


Staff Reporter

LAPLACE – Cyber detectives for the St. John the Baptist Parish Sheriff’s Office arrested a LaPlace teenager Friday after arson threats he posted on an online social interaction web site forced the closure of East St. John High School for a day.

Maj. Mike Tregre, a spokesperson for the Sheriff’s Office, said Jared Michael Ranallo, 17, 1725 E. Frisco Dr., LaPlace, was taken into custody Friday afternoon after authorities linked him to a personal profile on that featured pictures of East St. John High School in flames, and claims that Ranallo would burn the school down. School officials said Ranallo was seeking out support for his idea on the online networking site for teenagers.

Tregre said investigators found that eight people made comments on Ranallo’s page. Those individuals were questioned by police, but not charged with anything.

Tregre said the Internet posting, coupled with recent bomb threats at East St. John High, forced the cancellation of classes for Friday. The 1500 students of the school returned to classes as scheduled on Monday, but officials from the St. John Parish public school system have not determined when the day that was missed will be made up.

Tregre said Ranallo is being charged with “terrorizing,” a violation of Louisiana Revised Statute 14:40.1. The teen is being held on a $100,000 at the Sherman Walker Correctional Facility in LaPlace.

According to Louisiana law, if convicted, Ranallo faces up to $15,000 in fines or 15 years in prison for his actions.

St. John Sheriff Wayne Jones said the investigation into the threats targeting East St. John High is ongoing, and further arrests are likely.

“This investigation offers me the opportunity to remind teenagers that cyber-bullying and threatening behavior will not be tolerated and may result in serious consequences to the offender,” said Jones in a Sheriff’s Office press release. “New technological advances and investigative techniques are new resources that will be fully utilized by St. John Parish Sheriff’s Office. Protecting the children of St. John the Baptist Parish remains our highest priority.”

Tregre said the Sheriff’s Office is confident that the individuals responsible for the bomb threats will be taken into custody within the next few days. He said police have subpoenaed the phone records where the threats originated.