Harlingen man sentenced to 24 months for Twitter bomb threats

Joel Hayden Schrimsher enters the 138th state District Court Thursday for a bond reduction and probable cause hearing. The 18-year-old Harlingen resident was arrested by police for threatening to set fire to a mosque and shoot up a synagogue.(Denise Cathey/ The Brownsville Herald)

Nineteen-year-old Joel Hayden Schrimsher, of Harlingen, was sentenced to 24-months in federal prison after threatening to blow up the Federal Reserve.

Schrimsher claimed he was being “edgy” when he made the social media threats in the summer of 2019, which also included threatening to set fire to a mosque and shoot up a synagogue. He pleaded guilty Aug. 24 to conveying false or misleading information through the internet concerning the potential destruction of a federal building.

On Monday, U.S. District Judge Fernando Rodriguez sentenced Schrimsher to two years in prison to be immediately followed by two years of supervised release.

Judge Rodriguez also noted Schrimsher had chemicals and bomb making recipes in his bedroom at the time he made the threats. In handing down the sentence, the court noted that he considered this a very serious crime.

“The FBI and our law enforcement partners take threats of violence very seriously,” stated Special Agent in Charge Christopher Combs. “While law enforcement is committed to investigating these threats, members of the public play a critical role in helping law enforcement protect our community from violence by reporting online threats.”

Schrimsher was arrested on June 6, 2019, after the Harlingen Police Department received a tip from Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives agents based in Washington, D.C., about a response to a tweet allegedly posted by Schrimsher, according to The Brownsville Herald archives.

Joel Harden Schrimsher
Courtesy: Harlingen Police Dept.

Investigators who searched the home said they found bomb-making materials including aluminum powder, red iron oxide, sulfur nitrate, and potassium nitrate alongside hand-written formulas to make napalm, thermite, flash powder, nitroglycerin, and smoke bombs, according to information shared by investigators during a June hearing.

The investigation also revealed a post on his account relaying a family conversation which ended with “Me: I’m gonna mail a bomb to the Federal Reserve.”

After Schrimsher’s arrest, authorities say they found a photo in his cellphone of a fake certificate declaring him as “Most Likely to Damage Federal Property.”

In previous hearings, authorities testified that they discovered racist photos, content glorifying Nazis, and still footage of a school shooting on the young man’s cell phone. Schrimsher allegedly told investigators that he wasn’t serious about the tweet and his father testified that the chemicals were used to make smoke bombs at a cookout three years prior, according to Herald archives.

Schrimsher admitted to having the account @HaydenJool and name Hayden Ter(rawr)ist as well as making a tweet about bombing and damaging a Federal Reserve building.

He has remained in custody and will be transferred to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility in the near future.

The FBI, Cameron County District Attorney’s Office, police departments in Harlingen and Brownsville the ATF conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jody Young and Oscar Ponce prosecuted the case.

dmaldonado@valleystar.com

Former Brownsville Herald reporter Erin Sheridan contributed to this report.

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