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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.


Comment on this Story

  • Larisa

    You should all know that Dylan was claimed innocent, all charges were dropped, and he graduated this year. He never did anything wrong. He’s going to our local college to begin his career in acting. Have a nice day.

  • It does not matter if he is a good person or not. It was threat to the school it had over half of the students saying ” where is he gonna start shooting at in the lunch room where a quarter of the stundents will be” a friend of mine said. He may be a good student and son but the fact is there has been numerous shootings in the last few years including all of the people wounded and killed at sandy hook elementry school the students,staff and teachers. The wound was still open and still is that no good person 29 people lives and not saying the people who were not hurt they will emotional scared forever they are scared to go to sleep at night because of him, i don’t say this a lot but iam glad he is dead. I am sorry for his family although he took his mothers life also. I think and this is my opioion i think he should be made to go to juvinal hall and made to classes for this rage he has aginst society whether it was because the world was gonna end that is a bs excuse and sould not be aloud to set foot on any school grounds ever again whether he has children in the future or not. I know this may sound harsh but it is what i feel and no one on this site will tellme otherwise the way i see it is he has had this in the back of his mind the whole time and just waiting for the perfect time to release it and see it spread like wildfire yes and no one can change my mind although i did not go to school on friday it was senior skip day for the seniors who had senior project and that was my excuse for not going to school friday for winter break.

  • vinstantkarma

    Not until we hold Parent’s responsible for the actions of “their” Children will this madness stop. Start with attendance figures, grades and diciplinary record. School Districts submits Student’s Records to the County and State every year. Parent’s are taxed local, State and Federally based on “their” Childs performance and behavior.

    If we educate our Children in academics and not moral’s…were educate a menace to Society.

    Send this to your Senators and let’s out the blame where it belongs.

  • Guesttenheimer

    …and unfortunately, this was Dylans goal in spreading such a threatening rumor. He wanted a few extra days on break. He’s going to get them now, likely through suspension.

    There are people here supporting Dylan and stating this has gone overboard. “He’s just a kid…”, “The school is BS…”, “Dylan is a great guy…”, “Dylan wouldn’t hurt a fly…”. Had his proposed scenario occurred, these kids wouldn’t be so quick to call thier “BS” comments and state that the school officials have gone overboard. They would be in a state of absolute shock and dismay, not unlike the souls that survived the Columbine and Sandy Hook mass shootings. They would be haunted with visions of their murdered schoolmates, burned forever in their minds without relief. Situations like this cannot be taken lightly or ignored. It’s an unfortunate fact that some of these threats come to a grim reality.

    My biggest hope through this situation is that the other students realize the impact of Dylans behavior, the seriousness and the fear this kind of action strikes in peoples hearts. I hope these comments that disparage the school officials and law enforcement just aren’t thought through very well as a knee-jerk reaction. If not, we will encounter more young idiots that have no regard for their school, their parents and their fellow students. That’s the shame, disgrace and reputation that Dylan has brought upon himself. I just hope there aren’t other student that want to share that with Dylan.

  • Vog46

    I don’t know this kid.
    He started a hoax at a time when the country is HYPER sensitive and susceptible to over reacting to the threat of school violence.
    If he admitted to it then he’s GUILTY.
    I don’t care if he’s a good kid – I’m sure he is.
    He broke the law (one I had never heard of).
    Give him credit for being “good” and sentence him appropriately (suspended sentence, probation, being a crossing guard at an elementary school whatever).

    One thing we have to remember – our nerves are raw. The kids in Ct were infants really – not high school students. High school students? Keep this in mind.
    We are nervous and on edge – a perceived threat is very REAL to us right now and you and your younger brothers and sisters are no match for a Bushmaster assault rifle.
    And while no one was hurt by your hoax, it was ill-timed and showed a drastic lack of respect and common sense. You will unfortunately pay the price for our raw nerves.


  • Guest CommonTater

    is it acceptable, in your opinion, to weed out the nuts? Should we look into it before they kill 26 people you think? It’s always so interesting how when somebody goes off the deep end and hurts people that the family and friends go on about how swell they were and how they just can’t believe they were capable of such an act. pfft!

    There are lines in the sand that you don’t even joke about. If you are too stupid to realize it then it’s societies job to deal with you. Hopefully it will get through to the other idiots out there that such is not acceptable. Hopefully their idiot families and friends will learn to see the signs of a developing nutjob instead of this wonderful, loving kid…..killer. Get it?

  • Guest-Ashley Parent

    I have to agree with you 100%. Dylan is not a bad kid. He is a kid who made a mistake and he will rightfully be punished for that mistake. Please other posters refraining from throwing stones at a kid, you do not know. Out of all the comments , Not one person vilifying him actually knows him. You may notice those of us that do know him will all paint a very different picture of who he is.

  • Guest461

    …but it is a news blog and is serving it’s intended purpose. Nobody’s getting convicted here or sent to prison. People are merely expressing their opinion on the stupidity exercised by this young man just after the occurance of the nations worst child mass-murder. Bad decision…VERY bad timing!

    Sorry, but the damage has been done and Dylan needs to face the consequences. Putting parents and students in a defensive mode against a “phantom shooter” is very upsetting and counter-productive. You can bet there will be a small turnout of students at Ashley today due to the threat being posed.

    Dylan is 17 years old. Not a baby anymore and should be capable of making rashional decisions unlike this one. His name and mug shot are part of the consequences. This will help people remember him and his parents.

    Sorry, but that’s life in todays world, like it or not. Think before you act because you may not like the end result!

  • eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

    Because joking about shooting up a school is appropriate only a week after the Newtown shootings

  • Guestofwind

    You said, “Dylan would never hurt a fly, he just makes inappropriate, kinda twisted jokes.” I say maybe this will teach him to show a some restraint the next time he decides to open his mouth and ‘joke’. And would you please tell me exactly how are law enforcement and school officals supposed to know he is joking? You also said; “I’m glad you all help out in your community and do so much for people that you have the time to condemn a 17 year old you don’t even know to jail for a joke.” I say, What does that have to do with the topic at hand? If there is any condemnnation coming on Dylan it is by his own thoughtless and careless tongue for making ‘inappropriate, kinda twisted jokes’. People need to take personal responsibility for what they say.

  • Guestww

    Yeah right little man, I’m an Ashley student and I know Dylan and he would never harm a fly. Only reason ur not coming to school is because its a half day. Ur not scared at all, ur just using this as an excuse to skip!

  • B M

    whether he really meant it or not it is time we take these nutcases serious, as in all the other murders there were warning signs, if they were taken seriously we wouldn’t be having to defend our 2nd amedment rights now!

  • Guest41

    he is a really good student and when i see him he is always nice. he gets good grades also and its sad to see a good student get expelled for a rumor he started.

  • AHSParent

    As a parent of a current Ashley student, let me say, I’m glad this kid got arrested. My child has been scared to go to school this week, especially today and tomorrow. She or any other child should never have to be scared to go to school. Period! I do not know this young man and I’ve read the post here about him and his actions. However, the fact remains, he made a threat on over 600 students and staff. In this evil world we live today, one cannot simply say, Oh, it was just a joke and it be okay – especially the week after such a tragic day in CT and a week that we are watching so many funerals taking place each day as a result from that tragic day a week ago now. Should this kid, Dylan, be thrown in prison for life, no, but what has happened is exactly the correct action that he should face. He deserves the arrest and he will get his day in court. I only hope this will serve as a good lesson to this young man, that he will think good and hard about his actions. This Dylan is not the only one affected by his actions. I as a parent have been very concerned of my child’s safety this week, along with my whole family. What happened in CT has been my biggest nightmare for years, and for this Dylan to commit such a act of making threats, or rumors of threats to my child and all the students and staff at AHS, yes, he deserves what he has got, and I hope the judge will punish this child in a way that he learns and understands the full amount of grief and concern his actions have caused our community this week.

    Concerned Parent of AHS Student

  • Amy B.

    You really need to get a grip on reality. Did you miss high school completely? Who the hell do you think you are to be so judgmental? Until you know somebody or walk a mile in their shoes you have nothing to say. I know Dylan. He has been to my home several times and i would have him here tomorrow. This boy is a wonderful person and ,once again, until you know somebody you don’t know what you’re talking about.

  • anonymous

    you are an idiot kid. there is no one else involved. go to school. nothing is going to happen

  • Guest33

    Dylan is a person with feelings. Yes he messed up (like all of us do on a regular basis). Yes he should receive punishment. However if I was in his position I would not want people to rip me to shreds, he has a heart and it can break. Dylan is very insecure about himself and all this talk about him could seriously damage him. Words have the power of life and death, choose wisely.

  • Guest88

    Dylan is a friend of mine and I know his statement was purely sarcastic. Yes, his joke was a little tasteless but that is Dylan, he is just a goofy kid. Dylan may have messed up on that joke but ALL of us have messed up and ALL of us have said something that has been taken the wrong way. Dylan is only human like the rest of us. He intended no harm.

  • Guesttenheimer

    It’s a wonderful thing this threat was a hoax! Had it been real, you’d be whimpering and crying like a baby about the pointless murder of your friends, classmates and teachers while wondering for the remainder of your simple little life, “How could he have possibly done this to these wonderful people?”.

    So…there’s your “joke”, in yet another way (as you like to put it). Really funny now, huh? Tell me, “Bright Star”, does the view ever change when you’re NOT the lead dog? You are and always will be the perfect one to answer this!

  • Guest1772

    Any good lawyer or PI would have told him to keep his mouth shut and not talk to anyone about anything. Unless someone had a tape recording of what he said it is all hearsay. Sorry but that is how it works in the real world. Tell your parents the truth but listen to your attorney before you say anything to police.

  • Guest12424

    If this was such a concern to the school and law enforcement why didnt they send out one of those announcements by phone. I get a call for everything concerning football games,when money is due for something or if my child is 5 minutes late to class but this did not rank as high I guess.My daughter is a freshman there and Im ready to home school her.

  • AshleyEagleStudent

    As gangster thugs pack up, and roam the halls, groaping young girls, and bullying boys. Deputies, and staff, quickly turn their heads, the other way. It does not suprise me they would go after a safe, politically-correct, target, like Dylan.

    This is such a “Joke”, in more ways then one.

  • Lisa

    Just so you know I am close to this family and I am shocked and appalled at how some of this was handled with the school. People are cruel and making comments but since when do you question a young person and do so for 2 hours with a sherriff present and not inform him of his rights, do not contact his parents, nor realize that many students have been talking about this then tell the student if he just admits it he can go back to class. I am totally aware that we as a nation are sensitive to this subject matter due to the events in CT last week but serously this is one where if the school did nothing they would be in trouble they have questioned and bullied him into this. Scared him out of his mind. The kid wouldn’t hurt a fly and unlike a lot of young people his parents are very involved and trust me they know their son. So those that want to say cruel things do not have the facts and trust me they will be coming and so will many other things. It just amzes me that their was no common sense if it can happen to Merten it can happen to any child. Protect our child by all means but this action here is way over the line with this student I call BS! It is nice to see someone on here trying to be rational which is more than what the head staff member did when he took his action. I can’t imagine the job he has is easy but this is just wrong. A rumor is only a rumor if repeated if that is the case half the scholl should be sent home! Suspend I can see but to have him arrested just boggles the mind.

  • DisGuestEd

    You nailed it. WORDS HAVE POWER. This poor, fragile boy used his words to threaten MANY. Now, you are worried about his poor, simple soul. He has the choice NOT to read these comments. The kids and teachers at the school, had NO CHOICE! Sounds like this insecure kid needs some serious psychiatric help.

  • Get Over It

    This is just another example of the New Hanover County Sheriffs Office going over the top. Arresting a kid for spreading a rumor who clearly has no means to do what he said. I hope they file a nice little law suit, which would be an easy pay out at this point, to fund his education so he doesn’t have to return to a school where he would be wrongfully ridiculed. People should not jump to conclusion so fast. This is nothing but over protective parents freaking out when they know absolutely nothing, just out right ridiculous. “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone”-John 8:7

  • stratcatz

    Good kids can do stupid things, I’m sure he has learned a lesson he will never forget, and it will make him a better man. Just dont ruin his life over it, we need to encourage him and let him know that he can make a positive impact also.

  • David

    I know Dylan, he is friendly, kind, smart, and always cheery and upbeat. If he did say something about the school being “shot up”, it was most likely a joke directed towards the morons that intend to go out and do stupid things tomorrow because it’s the “end of the world”. Besides, there is little chance that he even started the actual rumor that floated around our school. Especially considering the rumor went from a gang of rednecks coming to shoot at our school, another school coming to shoot up the school, and then finally jumping between many individuals before the school in general chose to blame poor Dylan, who only posted a simple joke about violence occurring due to the end of the world. The person who spread the initial rumor should be arrested, and I’m sure Dylan’s “admitting” to the crime was just saying yes he posted the joke, and the Sheriff’s department booked him for starting a rumor on purpose and essentially ruined his life.

  • Guest33

    You people are all extremely ridiculous. Dylan is my friend, as are many other people. I know him very well, and whether or not he started the rumors, this is going to far. The school is trying to turn him into a scapegoat and it’s going to ruin a kid’s future. I AM GOING TO STAND AGAINST THIS. I personally will be talking to the school’s administration, as well as forming a petition to get him out of the situation he’s in. I will personally be at the court hearing, and I will do whatever I can in his defense. What is wrong with you people? Why must you all hammer the nail that sticks out the farthest? I’d like to see each and every one of you held accountable for the things you have done that weren’t the smartest. Thank you for your time.

  • Guest/p

    I have a daughter that goes to Ashley and she is deeply saddened and at a loss for words by everyone’s actions first and foremost Dylan’s. But what is hurting her most right now is reading the derogatory comments made in reference to this article. Let me tell you how I first became aware of what a truly kind young man Dylan can be. I work at the other end of the county and my daughter has after school activities that usually end around 4:30 pm. I am unable to pick her up until close to 6pm. Dylan has stayed with her so she doesn’t have to be alone, which had he not been there she would have been waiting on her own. I Thank him for this kindness. Why is it that we are so quick to judge and condemn everyone, do you all truly believe everyone is evil? Yes his comments were blatantly stupid, and as someone pointed out earlier, if we were not still mourning the losses in CT we probably wouldn’t be commenting here. Yes I believe he needs to learn a lesson and there should be consequences. We once again have the media to thank for making certain his name and picture are both out there for the world to see. He is not a common criminal, he is a teenager that certainly doesn’t have any common sense. I am saddened by people in general that feel they have the right to be judge and jury.

  • melloHannah

    Gee, it must be really nice to be all you guys, people who never make a mistake. Dylan would never hurt a fly, he just makes inappropriate, kinda twisted jokes. This joke was just ill-timed and got overheard by someone who thought it was true. He’s a great student, he’s an officer in the drama club, he helps out with the yearbook, he’s on the cross country team, he’s got great friends, a great girlfriend, and his life is going to be ruined by a joke. I’m glad you all help out in your community and do so much for people that you have the time to condemn a 17 year old you don’t even know to jail for a joke.

  • Marly Flick

    Im a current middle school student at Murray Middle, and alot of us ARENT GOING TO SCHOOL TOMORROW! We know he has friends and that it might not be a hoax. Its not cool to scare kids like that!

  • No Joke

    This is nothing to joke about, Only he knows if its really a joke.
    He needs to be evaluated for a year or two in a mental ward

  • mason

    Send him to the nut house, where he belongs! If he had any sense he would never have started such a rumor! He has made himself a threat to society and should be treated as such! Send the idiot off and never let him at!!

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