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FIRST ON 3 UPDATE: Ashley student arrested for violence hoax


WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- An Ashley High School student has been charged with starting rumors about planned violence at the school.

New Hanover County Sheriff's Office spokesman Sgt. Jerry Brewer says Dylan Greg Merten, 17, is charged with disorderly conduct by disrupting students after admitting to starting the rumor. Investigators arrested Merten this morning.

According to an arrest warrant, investigators say Merten created the rumor that someone would enter Ashley High School Friday and "shoot up the school." Investigators say the statement caused students to fear for their safety and plan not to attend classes tomorrow.

New Hanover County Schools Assistant Superintendent Rick Holliday said in an e-mail to reporters that Ashley administration began hearing rumors on Monday about violence that was to occur Friday at the school.

"They began investigating immediately," Holliday wrote. "The Sheriff's Department was also involved. Yesterday, the source of the rumors was identified as a current Ashley student who apparently started the rumors as a hoax."

Holliday did not identify Merten in his e-mail, but he said Ashley administration has applied "appropriate disciplinary measures."

"The New Hanover County Schools takes all threats against students and staff very seriously," Holliday said in his e-mail. "We will not tolerate any attempt to disrupt the learning environment of any of our schools. We would ask that community members contact the New Hanover County Schools to verify accurate information before responding to rumors."

Mertens was released from the New Hanover County Jail under $1,000 unsecured bond. He is due in court February 6.

Disclaimer: Comments posted on this, or any story are opinions of those people posting them, and not the views or opinions of WWAY NewsChannel 3, its management or employees. You can view our comment policy here.


What if

What if they weren't just rumors? What if someone decided to do something horrible on Friday? Would you be as quick to defend him? He made a bad decision that could have had consequences. Now he has to face up to that and take his punishment. I guess it won't feel so fun any more

I think it is very sad that

I think it is very sad that any child would think this is funny. What a stupid and disrespectful thing to do to the students, teachers, parents and anyone else he has affected. There was a tragedy that happened last week, and then some idiots think it's a good idea to call Walmart, Ashley High and other places, talking about bomb threats and shooting threats. I think any person who is so disrespectful and cold hearted to pull these hoaxes should definately be punished!! It is a slap in the face to the people who lost their loved ones in the tragic events that happened last week.

punishments should fit the crime

I had a friend in high school that experienced a very very similar situation. As a joke, he mentioned something about violence at the school, was overheard, suspended for 10 days, and it was put on his permanent record. Did this teach him anything? Probably not, just put him way behind in classes he actually took seriously. My point sounds like this kid made a dumb mistake and he obviously (like many young adults) wasn't affected by last weeks event in CT like alot, most, of us were. So instead of "ruining his life", why not give him some perspective; have him read to an elementary school class every week for the rest of the school year, make him volunteer at an afterschool program or boys and girls club til he graduates. It would teach him a lesson and maybe help facilitate the growth of a productive citizen and caring person, which is ultimately what we need to do right? Teach our kids how to care? Just a thought. As a young mom of a kid about to start kindergarten next year, it is sad to know that kids think mimicking this type of violence is is NOT funny.


Ruining one's life is the choice of the individual. I have four sons, two of which attend Ashley, two are grown ups. Strange, my kids and their friends took this quite seriously. None of them wanted to show up for school on Friday (please spare me the "they're teenagers looking for an excuse to skip" - my son's NEVER ask to stay home from school).
"Ruin his life"??? My eldest son went to jail for minor charges and HIS life is far from "ruined". My second son - after Columbine - made a comment to a teacher about "blowing up the school", got suspended AND made up all his work. Hmmm, didn't "ruin his life" either! What I didn't do? Was make the mistake of treating their absolutely stupid choices like "dumb mistakes".
A "dumb mistake"?? In this day and age, a dumb mistake is forgetting your lunch. Threatening to shoot people is FAR from a "dumb mistake".

By all means, arrest him,

By all means, arrest him, try him, fine him, put it on his permanent record. Ruin his life because of a bad decision on his part. Looks like the so-called "authorities" are worse than the kids these days. He has hurt no one. No wonder respect for authority is at an all time low with most everyone. It's all about the fines and the almighty dollar.

A miracle of modern-day science.

Not the first time you've posted something really stupid and probably won't be your last.

You're turning into a miracle of modern-day science; brain dead but still typing. Amazing!

It's not about money, it's about setting an example.

The fact of the matter is, he FALSELY endangered a school (make that 3 schools) which sit side by side. Not only is it sickening that this was his best response to last weeks events, but it speaks volumes to other teens when people get away with it. Whether or not he carried it out, he threatened to do it.

Seriously??? The kid breaks

Seriously??? The kid breaks a law and you're going to jump on authorities for doing their job??? Evidently you don't have kids. If so, as a parent, how could you take any threat like this lightly. An over-reaction to prevent further incidents is much better than no reaction and the rumors be true. This one may have been a hoax, but.if they ignore this one what happens when they ignore the real threat?


Were you born stupid or did you aspire to it? What they're doing is called Zero Tolerance. What would your reaction have been if the shooter in Newtown had made prior threats and the "Authorities" done nothing? What an idiot statement yours is. Sounds to me as though you've had some prior experience with the "Authorities".

he has hurt no one

apparently you have no children in school. have been hearing about the so called "rumor" all week long from mine. and even though i have been telling them (as well as myself) that it was probably just a harmless rumor...the thought of "but what if it's not" has been in the back of my mind every morning when i drop them off.


GuestVader, you are an idiot. Given the recent horrific events in CT, law enforcement SHOULD send a strong and clear signal to all that this type of action is intolerable. By the age of 17, one should know right from wrong.


and when they let something like this slide and violence occurs, you'd probably be the first one shouting "Why didn't they do anything." Arrest him and make an example out of him.

He does deserve all the

He does deserve all the punishment he gets, you are rude for the comment above. Authority is doing what it can to keep us safe after the recent events. You never know wether it was a hoax or if he was being honest, people are sick these days.

Are you kidding me? He made

Are you kidding me? He made threats, and in light of the most recent tragedy in CT, I would think anyone would have more sense than that! And then to defend those actions?? Wow...maybe you would feel differently if it were your child that was affected. This entire nation is in mourning and we CANNOT allow these senseless crimes to continue--so yes, even to just threaten harm needs to result in punishment.

Yes, let's do all of the

Yes, let's do all of the above. It's about time that students started being accountable for their actions and his threats are no joke in today's world. Here's another individual thinking that it is OK what this kid did. You have got to be kidding me. Wake up and realize you are part of the problem. Sheesh! Let the authorities do their job and let's support them for a change in doing it.

Don't be dense. There are

Don't be dense. There are limitations on your first amendment right to freedom of speech. When you begin rumors about inciting violence at a school, and the individuals that know you best believe you to have both the capability and intent, don't be surprised when the law comes knocking at your door. Life is real. What you say has consequences, whether they be good or bad.


You are an idiot,with recent news of the killing of innocent children,the nation on edge about sending their children to school.You honestly believe that the authorities are going to far in taking this threat serious.Yes he is a kid but he knew what this type of talk would create at this time,So he got what he wanted now let him get what he deserves.

It's called "Terrorizing", Einstein!

In light of the very recent events of violence and murder, this sort of behavior serves NO other purpose that to incite fear and panic! There's nothung funny about it, nothing cutsie and absolutely nothing innocent about it! NOTHING can be taken for granted these days, especially knowing there are walking teenage mental cases out there that nobody addresses, just walking around waiting to explode.
Damn right he needs to be charged and he had better learn a good lesson, very quickly! Otherwise he'll wind up being a loser jack-ass like yourself that thinks it's funny to walk into and airport terminal and yell "BOMB!".

Wake up and get a life! Things are changing quickly in this world and we have to be able to adapt quickly! Apathetic attitudes that make sarchastic mockery of reality are along the very same immature and out-of-place behavior patterns this student just displayed!

Not about the fines...

All threats need to be taken seriously. If someone is dumb enough to say such stupid things they should be held accountable. There are nuts in the world that will act on their warped views. You do read the news right?


While I realize no one got hurt, people must take responsibility for their actions. He needs to be arrested and punished in some way. His record could be espunged sometime in the future, but allowing this to happen without consequences will just lead to more of the same behavior from him and others.

Ashley Hoax - The previous

Ashley Hoax - The previous posting ask everyone to look the other way. That is EXACTLY the problem now! The kids get away with everything that they do, there is no accountability. Yes, he should be punished for whatever charges are brought against him. If you do the crime, you do the time.

If you dummies would read

If you dummies would read the story and better yet, comprehend what you read (I know that's asking a lot) you would learn that he made no threat, only started a rumor. He should get a serious reprimand, but certainly no arrest or other legal action is warranted. I mean, the best charge they could come up with was disorderly conduct, which is a catch-all when nothing has really been done, but they feel the need to charge someone with something.

He was ARRESTED for starting

He was ARRESTED for starting the rumor regarding a terror-like plot. He will most likely be CHARGED with disorderly conduct or communicating threats, both misdemeanors. Deputies don't "charge" you with a crime, they enforce and detain. The District Attorney will determine the depth of the crime and "charge" him accordingly. Unfortunately, this kid will not be made an example of - he'll receive a slap on the wrist from the court system, and maybe a suspension from school. Earlier this week, dozens of schools were close in Michigan because of two similar incidents where kids were spreading rumors about the Mayan Prophecy and planning Connecticut-like shootings. Folks, we can't have it both ways - many people "saw" the signs before the Connecticut massacre, but did nothing. This kid, while reportedly bright, obviously has no common sense and will have to now face the consequences.

He should've thought about

He should've thought about what it did to the students that heard the rumor he started. My son goes to Murray which connected to Ashley with common wall. He came home Wednesday telling me he heard that some kids were coming to the school Friday to "shoot up the place." So tell me how this little punk didn't do anything wrong?