A 16-year-old girl from Idaho who police credit with speaking up and preventing a teenager from carrying out violent threats against his Detroit-area high school learned about the importance of detecting and reporting internet threats from her father, who heads the cyber crime unit for the Washington State University police.
Celia McGinty met Andrew Osantowski, 17, online in a music chat room three weeks ago, said her father, George McGinty.
In a series of disturbing online chats and eMail messages, police say, Osantowski talked of his plans for revenge at Michigan’s Chippewa Valley High School, where he started school Aug. 31.
||Police display weapons, ammunition and bomb making materials found at the home of Andrew Osantowski on Friday in Clinton Township, Mich. (Associated Press)
“She realized when the conversation turned bad, it was time to pass that information on,” McGinty told The Detroit News for a story Sept. 20.
Osantowski is being held in the Macomb County Jail on more than $1 million bond, charged with 10 felonies, including threatening an act of terrorism. A judge entered a plea of not guilty on his behalf, and he could face up to 20 years in prison if convicted.
Also charged in the case were Osantowski’s father, Marvin Osantowski, and a family acquaintance, Dominic Queentry.
“He started getting really specific about what he was going to do and what he had,”Celia McGinty said during an appearance Sept. 20 on ABC’s “Good Morning America.” “He told me where he had his weapons. … He gave me his name and address. Who would do that?”
As a gesture of thanks, Warren, Mich., real estate agent Ralph Roberts said he plans to fly McGinty and his daughter to Michigan and bring them to the high school.
“In my opinion, she’s a hero because she’s being raised by a hero,” Roberts, whose daughter attends Chippewa Valley, told the Detroit Free Press.
McGinty said he and his daughter likely will accept Roberts’ invitation, primarily to address Chippewa Valley students about the importance of detecting and reporting internet threats.
Township Supervisor Robert Cannon said they are working to schedule the visit. At press time, a date had not been set.
It all started in mid-August with online chats between Osantowski and McGinty’s daughter, who lives with her mother in Moscow, Idaho, police said. When the messages became increasingly violent, she alerted her father, who lives 45 minutes away in Washington, and he notified Michigan authorities.
Based on that information, police raided Osantowski’s home Sept. 16 and found a trove of guns, knives, chemicals, bomb-making materials, and Nazi paraphernalia. They arrested Osantowski, his father, and Queentry. All are awaiting a Sept. 30 preliminary exam.
Since the arrests, the McGinty family has dealt with a flood of attention from national news media outlets.
“I am kind of surprised,” McGinty said. “I do this sort of stuff on a daily basis. This is kind of a routine thing for me, not for my daughter.”
Chippewa Valley High School
Washington State University