There is no reason to believe that local schools were under “imminent threat” of an attack from a South Whitehall Township man who has voluntarily submitted to psychological treatment or anyone else, Lehigh County District Attorney James B. Martin said on Thursday.
In a news release, Martin also said that no charges will be filed against the 57-year-old man who had reportedly talked of terrorism attacks against 27 local schools.
Though the man appeared to be “delusional” and had in his home two .45-caliber handguns, ammunition, a bullet-proof vest and literature that referred to a “mega terror attack on October 1, 2013,” there is no basis to charge him criminally, Martin said.
The man, who was not identified, has cooperated with authorities, been thoroughly interviewed by the Bethlehem Police Department and voluntarily relinquished his weapons, which he was licensed to carry, Martin said. The bullet-proof vest was issued to the man by his employer—an armored carrier company.
On Thursday, the man was still being treated at Lehigh Valley Hospital—Muhlenberg in Bethlehem, the DA said.
“In short, there is no credible evidence to support anything other than his undergoing voluntary mental health treatment to address his delusional behavior,” Martin said.
Concern surrounding this man’s behavior surfaced on Monday after he told a woman who was shampooing and cutting his hair that he had received “… a message from God that there was going to be an attack upon 27 schools on Oct. 1, 2013,” according to the DA’s news release.
This message was not specific as to the names or locations of any particular schools. The recipient of the message was not in fear that this man was the prospective attacker; on the contrary, she interpreted what he was telling her as a warning, Martin said.
Based upon the man’s statements, she decided not to send her two children to school the following day, the release said. But upon further reflection, about two hours after talking to the man, she reported the conversation to the Bethlehem Police Department.
The following morning, Bethlehem and South Whitehall police visited the man at his home and he was “compliant in all respects,” the news release said, even consenting to a search of his home.
The weapons, ammunition, vest and literature were all found “in plain view,” the release said. After questioning, he agreed to voluntarily commit himself to the hospital.
Martin blamed “a few school administrators outside of Lehigh County” and “some members of the local media” for causing “unnecessary and widespread concern” about the potential danger.
Saucon Valley School District Superintendent Sandra Fellin requested and got additional police security at district schools and informed employees about it through a widely circulated email.
Easton Area elementary schools moved physical education classes and recess indoors.
“I hope that any concerns of the public are alleviated, and that Lehigh Valley residents—those with and without children in schools—are reassured that there is no imminent threat of any attack upon our schools,” Martin said.