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FIRST ON 3 UPDATE: Ashley student arrested for violence hoax

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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.

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