Kenneth Petersen Stephenville Texas man demands all black people be shot at NJ school charged with bias intimidation after call for racial violence.
The comment from Kenneth Petersen, 21, of Stephenville, came in a group chat organized by a female student at Northern Burlington Regional High School who was discussing senior pranks in May 2018, the Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office said Wednesday.
The student who created the chat on the messaging app GroupMe did not know Petersen, but access to the group was available to anyone with an account on the platform, Burlington County Prosecutor Scott Coffina said.
The student alerted her teacher to the alleged threat and a police investigation in Mansfield Township ensued.
Petersen’s call for ‘racial violence’ came just ahead of the school’s graduation ceremony – leading to an additional police presence there, Coffina said.
He was indicted on Jan. 9 on one count of bias intimidation. It remained unclear if prosecutors would seek to add additional charges.
‘There can never be any tolerance for racially-motivated threats like this and, especially during recent times when we have seen threats escalate to actual acts of violence, law enforcement must respond with the utmost seriousness,’ Coffina said in a statement. ‘You cannot hide behind a cellphone halfway across the country while spewing such hatred.’
It’s unclear why Petersen chose to target that particular group chat, Coffina said. Petersen’s hometown is some 1,600 miles away from the New Jersey public high school.