Texas man indicted for allegedly telling New Jersey teen that 'all the black people' at her school should be shot
© Burlington County Prosecutor's Office

A 21-year-old Texas man was indicted by a grand jury after allegedly messaging a teenager in New Jersey saying that “all the black people” at her school should be shot.

Kenneth Petersen of Stephenville was indicted last week on one count of fourth degree bias intimidation, the Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office in New Jersey announced on Wednesday.

In May 2018, a Northern Burlington student informed a teacher that she received a threatening message on messaging app called GroupMe. She had created a group chat with other students to discuss senior pranks, and anyone with a GroupMe account could access the page.

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The teenager suddenly received a message from a stranger, reportedly later identified as Petersen, suggesting that “all the black people at the school” should be shot.

The comment came shortly before the school’s 2018 graduation ceremony so there was an increased police presence on the New Jersey school’s campus. 

It was later determined that the message came from out-of-state and no students or staff at the school were in danger, according to investigators.

Petersen, who was attending a Texas university at the time of the communication, was later arrested in September 2019 after a joint investigation between New Jersey State Police, FBI and the Tarleton State University Police Department in Texas.

It isn’t clear why he allegedly targeted the high school student or the group, according to the prosecutor’s office.

“There can never be any tolerance for racially-motivated threats like this and, especially during recent times when we have seen threats escalate to actual acts of violence, law enforcement must respond with the utmost seriousness,” Burlington County prosecutor Scott Coffina said in a statement. “You cannot hide behind a cell phone halfway across the country while spewing such hatred.”