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LEXINGTON, Ky. - Dylan Lee Jarrell, 22, of Anderson County, Ky., admitted in federal court that he transmitted a threatening communication in interstate commerce, committed cyberstalking, made a false statement to federal law enforcement officers, and possessed a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence. Jarrell pleaded guilty to the charges today, before U.S. District Judge Gregory F. Van Tatenhove.
According to his plea agreement, Jarrell admitted that in 2018 he began to plan and prepare to conduct an act of violence against occupants of Shelby County High School, which Jarrell had previously attended as a student. Over time, Jarrell also developed an alternative plan to kill an individual identified as D.B., and then kill himself, in a murder-suicide. Jarrell took several actions in furtherance of the plans, including acquiring a firearm.
In May 2018, using a Reddit account and user screen name later confirmed to be his, Jarrell posted public messages about previous mass school shootings, which evidenced a serious expression of his intent. Based on the Reddit posts, on May 30, 2018, a special agent from the FBI questioned Jarrell at his residence in Anderson County. Jarrell was warned it was a crime to lie to an FBI special agent. During the interview, Jarrell claimed not to have any knowledge about the Reddit posts or the user screen name. At the time Jarrell made these statements, he knew them to be false.
From July to September 2018, Jarrell made posts on Instagram using an account he created. On September 24, 2018, Jarrell transmitted a communication, via Instagram, to an account used by D.B., in which Jarrell threatened to commit an act of violence upon D.B.
On August 22, 2018, Jarrell purchased an American Tactical Omni Maxx P3 Hybrid 5.56 caliber semi-automatic rifle. Throughout August and September 2018, Jarrell obtained other items, including a bump stock for the rifle, large capacity magazines, ammunition, and body armor. In his plea agreement, Jarrell acknowledged obtaining these items in furtherance of his planned school shooting, or alternatively, the murder-suicide.
Jarrell also created and used an account under his own name on Facebook. On October 17, 2018, using Facebook, Jarrell sent two harassing messages to an account associated with K.B. The Defendant understood those communications would reasonably be expected to cause substantial emotional distress to K.B.
On October 18, 2018, personnel from the FBI and Kentucky State Police responded to Jarrell’s residence in Anderson County, and questioned him about his Reddit and Facebook activities. This time, Jarrell admitted he composed and sent the Reddit and Facebook messages. Jarrell provided the law enforcement officers his cell phone, which revealed Jarrell’s plans to attack Shelby County High School and D.B. Jarrell admitted to investigators that he formulated these plans and that he acquired the firearm in furtherance of the plans.
Jarrell was indicted in May of 2019.
“Dylan Jarrell manifested a clear intent to commit horrific acts of violence on innocent persons in our District and elsewhere,” said Robert M. Duncan, Jr., United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky. “Fortunately, because of the thorough work of dedicated law enforcement officers, Jarrell’s plans were thwarted and lives were almost certainly saved. I commend the law enforcement personnel involved in this investigation for their professionalism and commitment to keeping the public safe from harm. We are proud to stand with them in this continued fight.”
“The FBI takes credible threats of violence seriously, and preventing mass causality events is a top priority. As the Jarrell investigation indicates, the FBI will work closely with the Kentucky State Police and our law enforcement partners to bring to justice those who issue these threats,” said James Robert Brown Jr., Special Agent in Charge, FBI Louisville Field Office. “I want to encourage the public to remain vigilant and to report this behavior to law enforcement immediately. In this instance, with the public’s help, the FBI and KSP saved lives.”
“The Kentucky State Police commends our trooper and all the other officers and law-enforcement agencies involved in apprehending this dangerous criminal before he was ever able to harm a single individual,” said Commissioner Richard Sanders, Kentucky State Police. “If trooper Satterly had not looked beyond the initial complaint of online misconduct by Jarrell, it is not hard to imagine what atrocities may have been committed by this individual.”
U.S. Attorney Duncan, James Robert Brown, Jr., Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation; and Commissioner Sanders, Kentucky State Police jointly announced the guilty plea.
The investigation was conducted by FBI and KSP. The United States was represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew T. Boone.
Jarrell is scheduled to be sentenced on April 1, 2020 at 11 a.m. He faces up to 5 years in prison on the threatening communication, cyberstalking, and false statement charges, and at least 5 years on the firearms charge, consecutive to the other offenses. He also faces a maximum fine of $250,000. However, any sentence will be imposed by the Court after its consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statutes.
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