Waite High students gather under the seats of the school’s Mol-lenkopf Stadium in response to a reported bomb threat Friday.
PORT CLINTON — A string of bomb threats that started April 1 in Port Clinton and included the evacuation of Waite High School on Friday morning ended with the arrest later in the day of Charles L. Tingler, 22, of Oak Harbor, Ohio.
The series of fake calls to schools and police departments occurred in Ottawa, Sandusky, Erie, and Lucas counties.
In each call, police said, the suspect either said a device was about to go off in the school building or that a man wearing a trench coat was walking in the school with a bomb.
He told authorities that the calls started after he spotted a student on social media expressing a desire to get out of class, police said. “On his own admission, he said, ‘I took it too far. I took it a little too far,’ ” said Donald St. Clair, an agent with the Ottawa County Task Force.
In Toledo on Friday, a 911 dispatcher received two calls warning that the East Toledo high school was going to be blown up, at 6:15 a.m. and at 6:31 a.m.
Police and school officials moved students and staff members into Mollenkopf Stadium while they swept the field house, and once that was cleared they moved all of the students to that facility to await the school’s search. When police found nothing suspicious, students were back in class by 9:30 a.m.
Mr. Tingler is being held in the Ottawa County jail and charged with inducing panic, a second-degree felony because the bomb threats occurred at schools.
He confessed to making phone calls to schools in Port Clinton, Sandusky, and Oak Harbor, and to Waite High School in Toledo. Authorities said Mr. Tingler admitted to making at least 10 or 11 false bomb threats over the last month.
He told police he worked alone.
“He takes full responsibility for what he has done,” Agent St. Clair said.
The last two incidents were Friday morning just hours before investigators took Mr. Tingler in for questioning. He is accused pf calling in false threats to Waite and to Port Clinton middle school.
Authorities said Mr. Tingler attended Sandusky and Oak Harbor high schools. He later got a GED.
Agent St. Clair, who had the task of coordinating information from all the various law enforcement agencies that were tracking the threats, said Mr. Tingler placed the calls from home using his cell phone. He also used various Internet sites and mobile applications that are designed to disguise the identity of a caller.
One of the sites Mr. Tingler admitted to using is spoofcard.com, said Agent St. Clair. “A number of the calls were made using voice digitization — a process that disguises your voice to make a man sound like a woman and so forth,” he said.
According to information on spoofcard.com, it is a subsidiary of TelTech Systems Inc. in New Jersey. Company officials could not be reached for comment.
The suspect’s father, Charles Tingler, Sr., said his son works at Walmart in Port Clinton. Mr. Tingler, Sr., said he was shocked when police showed up at the home he shares with his son about noon Friday and said they wanted to take him in for questioning.
“I don’t understand it. The boy is no trouble. He goes to church. He works,” his father said, noting that his son is in deep trouble now.
Mr. Tingler, Sr., said his adopted son should have known the calls could be traced because he has been in trouble with authorities before for placing threatening calls.
It happened when he was a teenager, after what his father called a dumb argument with his girlfriend. He was arrested and spent a few weeks in juvenile detention, his father said.
“I’m at a total loss. I can’t believe he’s done this,” Mr. Tingler, Sr., said.
His son is expected to be arraigned in Ottawa County Municipal Court on Monday.
“There probably will be other charges once the grand jury meets in mid-May. However, we will have to determine if there is a common thread to these and if they can all be charged in Ottawa County. He may have to be charged in other jurisdictions,” said Mark Mulligan, Ottawa County Prosecutor.
Contact Marlene Harris-Taylor firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6091.