Man charged in school threats

Federal charges have been filed against a California man who made threats against central Indiana schools, which also led to Franklin schools closing.

The threats in 2015 closed schools in Plainfield and Danville. Franklin schools also made the decision to cancel classes after receiving its own threats around the same time. The threats to Franklin schools were not found to be related to the ones in Plainfield and Danville, but parents and school officials were concerned and the school district canceled classes the final day before winter break.

Buster Hernandez, 26, Bakersfield, was charged in U.S. District Court with threats to use an explosive device, threats to injure and sexual exploitation of a child.

Brownsburg police contacted the FBI in December 2015, asking for help with a case involving a Plainfield girl, who was receiving threats from a person online who went by the name “Brian Kil.” The man threatened the girl and forced her to send sexually explicit images of herself for more than a year. When the girl later refused, the man made threats against her and her school and against police, according to court documents.

The threats led school officials to close Plainfield and Danville High Schools. The Shops at Perry Crossing in Plainfield was also closed December 19, 2015, but reopened the following day after police found no credible threats, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Around that same time, three different threats were made at Franklin schools.

School officials found two drawings in high school restrooms with a gun and the words “shoot up the school.” School officials didn’t consider the threats to be credible but notified parents after a second drawing was found and students were talking about it.

Then, a third threat was made against the high school when someone called and said there was a homemade bomb in the athletics wing of the high school, which prompted a lockdown and canceled after school activities. Police searched the building and nothing was found.

Because of the specific threat and other threats that had been made to schools around central Indiana, including in Plainfield and Danville, officials canceled school to ensure everyone’s safety, officials said at the time.

Investigators have continued looking into the threats made in Plainfield for more than a year.

“This was a unique and complex investigation that highlights the tenacity, perseverance, expertise and dedication of the FBI Indianapolis’ Crimes Against Children Task Force and was a top priority. Innovative techniques were utilized, solutions to roadblocks created and partnerships with key private sector partners were developed,” W. Jay Abbott, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Indianapolis Division, said in the news release.

“I stood in front of concerned parents and community members and told them we would find the person who had been victimizing these young girls and, with the tireless work of our agents and partners, we never gave up.”

Investigators found Hernandez had used the same tactic with multiple victims in at least 10 other areas across the country, including posting images of another girl when she refused to send more, and sending another to attend a community forum about the police investigation into the Plainfield threats.

They are asking anyone else who believes they were a victim of Hernandez to contact the Indianapolis FBI Office at https://tips.fbi.gov/ or call 317-595-4000, and select option two, to make a report.

If convicted, Hernandez faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in prison, and a maximum of 30 years.

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Annie Goeller is managing editor of the Daily Journal. She can be reached at agoeller@dailyjournal.net or 317-736-2718.