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Texas 19-year-old pleads guilty to 'swatting' and bomb threats in Marshall

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Zachary Morgenstern was more than 1,000 miles away when he threatened to blow up Marshall High School in January. And he was just as far away when he posed as an armed attacker holding a father and son hostage in a Marshall apartment complex in February.

But he was in Minnesota Friday, when he pleaded guilty to making bomb threats and falsely reporting hostage situations in a practice known as "swatting."

In announcing the plea, the U.S Attorney for Minnesota, Andrew Luger, said such bogus threats are dangerous to victims and a drain on law enforcement resources.

The Marshall Independent reported in January that city police, Lyon County sheriff's deputies, and Minnesota state troopers responded to the bomb threat at the high school by diverting traffic and putting the school in lock-down mode.

February's fake hostage situation also closed streets, the newspaper reported.

Luger says Morgenstern concealed his identity by using email accounts, Twitter handles, and online phone numbers that preserved his anonymity.

As the Star Tribune notes, prosecutors say Morgenstern targeted people he got to know through Twitter and Skype while playing World of Warcraft or other games online.

Federal guidelines call for a 4 to 5-year prison sentence for Morgenstern, the newspaper says.

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