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Emily Welker, Published August 14 2013

Police link Fargo library computer to Northwood lockdown

FARGO – Police here executed a search warrant on a computer at the downtown city library after someone posted a message to a Facebook account Aug. 8 saying he was going to go on a shooting rampage at a school.

The search warrant, filed Monday in Cass County District Court, says that a woman in Northwood, Ashley Simons, contacted police there Aug. 7 after she saw a posting on a Facebook friend’s page that read, in part, “about 2 go 2 a school and go on a shooting rampage. Catch me if you can.”

Simons told police the posting happened sometime between 11:48 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. that day.

According to the search warrant affidavit, the Facebook profile belonged to a 32-year-old man who was recently living in Fargo and previously in Northwood.

According to court records, the incident led to a lockdown at the Northwood Deaconess Health Center, since three of the man’s friends work there, though there was no evidence he threatened the home.

The 32-year-old, who has not been charged with a crime, told a Fargo police officer that he had been at the library Aug. 7 starting at 11:45 a.m. but had left by 12:50 p.m. He said he had used a library computer to log into his Facebook account but had not posted on it since July 29.

The man did not recall whether he had logged out of his account or not.

Library surveillance video backed up the man’s claim that he left the computer at 12:50 p.m. The search warrant affidavit states that after the man left, an unknown black man sat down at the computer five minutes later.

Fargo police Lt. Joel Vettel confirmed that the search warrant was part of the investigation that led to the Northwood lockdown, but said he could not comment further on the ongoing investigation.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Emily Welker at (701) 241-5541