Harlingen man charged with threatening mosque, synagogue

Joel Harden Schrimsher Courtesy: Harlingen Police Dept.

Police say an 18-year-old Harlingen man used Twitter to make terroristic threats against mosques and synagogues.

During a news conference Wednesday afternoon, Harlingen Police Chief Michael Kester released details about the recent arrest of Joel Hayden Schrimsher in connection to those threats.

Kester said his agency was contacted by the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives on Wednesday, June 5, about the threat on social media.

Harlingen Police contacted the suspect, identified as Schrimsher, at his home on the 2000 block of North Parkwood home, where he was arrested on charges of making terroristic threats, authorities said.

Police secured a search warrant for the home, and with the help of the Brownsville Police Department bomb squad, seized a number of items, the chief said.

“The search resulted in a collection of several items of evidence including … chemical compounds commonly used as components of explosives,” Kester said. “These were not derivatives of household items. The specific compounds, when properly combined, would create a substantial explosive if detonated.”

No guns were seized, Kester said.

After the search, Schrimsher was also charged with components of explosives, Kester said.

Cameron County District Attorney Luis Saenz said Schrimsher is being held on a $1 million bond.

This was the first time this type of case has occurred in the county, Saenz said.

“Again this is an unfortunate sign of the times,” Saenz said. “More than ever, we ask the public to be vigilant with their neighbors, with anything out of the usual. With those people that frequent social media. Not to take something for granted. Not because you’ve seen about it, heard about it before, not to make something out of it. This started with a social media post, and here we are making this announcement.”

What could have been a very serious situation was stopped, Saenz said.

“This is the dawning of a new age in Cameron County,” Saenz said. “It’s touched us like everybody else in the U.S.”

Schrimsher remains in jail.