Harlingen man to remain jailed in terroristic threat case

Joel Hayden Schrimsher enters the 138th state District Court Thursday for a bond reduction and probable cause hearing. The 18-year-old Harlingen resident was arrested by police for threatening to set fire to a mosque and shoot up a synagogue.(Denise Cathey/ The Brownsville Herald)

An 18-year-old Harlingen man facing federal charges for making terroristic threats to bomb federal and religious buildings was arraigned in a federal court in Brownsville Wednesday morning.

United States Magistrate Judge Ignacio Torteya III informed Joel Hayden Schrimsher of his charges and his rights during a brief appearance. He faces felony charges in both state and federal court.

Schrimsher will continue to be held without bond following Wednesday’s arraignment hearing, during which his attorney argued for his release from detention in Cameron County pending trial due to inadequate access to medical care for his diabetes.

At a prior bond hearing held in the 138th state District Court this June, Associate Judge Louis Sorola declined to lower the bond, which was set at $1 million.

On the federal level, Schrimsher is charged with three counts of false information and hoaxes and three counts of explosive materials – willfully making a threat.

The indictment handed down by a grand jury on Oct. 29 alleges that Schrimsher used his Twitter account to make the threats and that he planned to mail a bomb to the Federal Reserve, set fire to a mosque, and set fire to and shoot up a synagogue.

Schrimsher’s state-level charges include three counts of possession of components of explosives with intent to combine them into an explosive weapon. Additionally, he is charged with three counts of making terroristic threats with intent to harm the public in fear of serious bodily injury.

Two of those counts come with enhancements attached indicating that authorities believe Schrimsher intended to commit hate crimes. He faces up to 45 years on both his state and federal charges.

According to The Brownsville Herald archives, investigators found four chemical compounds used in bomb making, as well as white supremacist literature in the home where Schrimsher lived with his parents.

He was arrested on June 6 after Harlingen police received a tip about Schrimsher’s Twitter from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives in Washington, D.C.

Investigators executed a warrant to search the home, where they found multiple chemicals used in bomb-making as well as hand-written formulas to make napalm, thermite, flash powder, nitroglycerin and smoke bombs.

Schrimsher’s attorney, Roland Garza, said that the party is taking the case “one day at a time.”

Schrimsher will appear in federal court for a detention hearing on Nov. 12. A status hearing on the man’s state charges is scheduled for Nov. 14.



Court hearing reveals evidence in Harlingen terroristic threat case