Franklin Regional suspect Hribal's cellphone seized as evidence
Investigators have seized the cellphone of the suspect in a stabbing rampage at Franklin Regional Senior High School last week, a day after two students told police they received threatening telephone messages, according to a search warrant affidavit filed Monday.
Investigators obtained a separate search warrant to confiscate suspect Alex Hribal's cellphone, which was found in a backpack in his school locker after the attacks on Wednesday, a law enforcement source told the Tribune-Review.
Murrysville police said Hribal, 16, took two 8-inch, stainless steel knives to school and randomly slashed and stabbed 19 classmates and a security guard in a first-floor hallway before the start of classes.
Hribal is charged as an adult with multiple counts of attempted homicide and aggravated assault.
“The caller is believed to be the actor because of the subsequent conduct of the actor coming to school and attacking numerous individuals,” states the warrant filed by Murrysville Sgt. Charles Tappe and Westmoreland County Detective Jimmy Williams.
“The caller said he was going to (expletive) them up,” Tappe wrote.
Investigators have not determined a motive for the attacks.
“We're still exploring several potential possibilities,” District Attorney John Peck said. Bullying is “absolutely” a possibility, he said.
Peck said investigators have no proof that Hribal sent the messages.
“At this point (the victims) are only surmising that the messages came from (Hribal). The students received the threatening messages the night before the attack, and the assault happened the next morning, so after the incident they went to police,” Peck said.
The parents of one student declined to comment on the threats. The other alleged victim could not be reached. Neither student was targeted in the attack, authorities said.
In the affidavit seeking the search warrant, Tappe and Williams wrote that “it is known that individuals who commit school violence electronically preserve writings concerning their motive and/or plans to commit the violence.”
Peck said FBI experts should be able to verify whether Hribal made the threats.
The search warrant inventory shows investigators seized a wooden Chicago Cutlery knife block with two missing knives from Hribal's home. Three computers; 32 Xbox games including the popular “Call of Duty,” a first-person shooting game; 188 photographs; an iPod; and an iPad were taken.
Investigators have not yet returned a warrant for Hribal's phone and other belongings at the school to Export District Judge Charles Conway.
On the day of the attack, 15 FBI special agents joined in the search, along with two Murrysville Police officers and Williams, the county detective. Peck said investigators are awaiting the FBI computer and cellphone forensics experts' report on the contents of the electronic devices, which could take weeks.
Hribal is being held without bond in the Regional Services Youth Center in Hempfield, where he underwent a psychological evaluation Sunday.
Two male students injured in the attack remain in critical condition in Forbes Hospital. A third has been upgraded to fair condition. A fourth, Jared Boger, 17, is in critical condition in UPMC Presbyterian.
For security reasons, county officials moved Hribal's preliminary hearing on April 30 to the Westmoreland County Courthouse in Greensburg.
Paul Peirce and Renatta Signorini are staff writers for Trib Total Media. Peirce can be reached at 724-850-2860 or firstname.lastname@example.org and Signorini can be reached at 724-837-5374 or email@example.com.
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