The latest round of social media threats against Lewis and Clark High School specifically targeted two underage female students, one who, it threatened, would be the “first victim to go.”
Those details, revealed in a search warrant filed Wednesday in Spokane County Superior Court by Spokane police Detective Brian Cestnik seeking records from Facebook and Google, were similar to social media threats against the same two students in late May by an Instagram account with an almost identical name. The original account was steven_smith_4; the more recent account is steven_smith__4, with an extra underscore after ‘smith.’
After serving a search warrant on Facebook, the owner of Instagram, Cestnik learned that the latter account was created just after midnight Friday night. The IP address was apparently using a virtual private network proxy server registered to Digital Ocean, LLC, one of the nation’s largest virtual server providers, based out of New York City.
Cestnik reportedly checked the account’s IP address through open source databases and found the account was located in the Netherlands. Cestnik noted that means it was likely “spoofed” or “made up.”
The detective further found an email address associated with the account, email@example.com. He served another search warrant on Google.
Police previously arrested 18-year-old Ryan Lee in connection with the first round of threats. He remains out of custody on a $100,000 bond, but is barred from accessing social media platforms as part of his release conditions. The account was reportedly shut down shortly after. Lee was re-arrested in August, however, for allegedly breaking those conditions when he attended a church youth group. He was again released and his bond was not increased.
In the most recent threat, records say a student called 911 Saturday evening and reported the steven_smith__4 account followed a group account on Instagram she runs called “lcponderosajournal,” which submits and shares poetry, short stories and art. The student reportedly recognized the name and when she clicked on the page, saw the account’s only post.
It reads that the poster “cant (sic) wait to carry out what i (sic) said last school year” and that he or she is “ ‘sorry’ for those who will not be there the next day.”
The poster then goes on to say he or she can’t believe they weren’t caught “after all these months,” and instead, said police mistakenly arrested an Asian or Latino student. Lee is Asian-American.
The poster then names two female students, one whom he or she calls a “slut” and the “first victim to go.” In May, one of the female students reported to police that she received violent, sexually explicit threats and pornography from the same account. Lee, in turn, was charged with communicating with a minor for immoral purposes, a sex offense.
The FBI confirmed Wednesday it was assisting in the investigation.
“The FBI routinely offers assistance to our law enforcement partners, to provide additional manpower and specialized resources, if they become necessary,” FBI spokeswoman Ayn Dietrich-Williams said.
A suspect or person of interest has not been identified. Police on Thursday declined a request to comment.
Subscribe to the Morning Review newsletter
Get the day’s top headlines delivered to your inbox every morning by subscribing to our newsletter