CARY, NC – A former Cape Fear Community College and University of North Carolina at Wilmington student was arrested in Cary on Sunday for threatening violence against the town.
Executive Director of University Relations Janine Iamunno confirmed Garrett Grimsley was a transfer student from Cape Fear Community College who earned his bachelor’s in Computer Science. Grimsley was also an undergraduate student employee during his time at UNCW, employed from September 2014 to the end of July 2016, according to Iamunno.
Iamunno added that Grimsley’s actions and arrest were unrelated to an issue Tuesday on campus.
Tuesday morning, the school sent out a “shots fired” alert to students. Text alerts and Tweets warning students were immediately retracted by the school and blamed on a user error during a routine training session.
UNCW deeply regrets the false alarm, which was caused by user error during a routine campus training session. Latest:https://t.co/m9IVn2uqF5
— UNCW (@UNCWilmington) February 21, 2017
The arrest of Grimsley, 27, in the Raleigh-area community of Cary, was announced on Tuesday, Feb. 21, by John Stuart Bruce, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina. Grimsley used the anonymous message app Whisper to send posts warning people “don’t go to Cary tomorrow.”
Authorities raided Grimsley’s residence and found an assault rifle and hundreds of rounds of ammunition.
According to the affidavit of FBI Task Force Officer Andrew Maurer, Grimsley messaged a cooperating witness: “For too long the kuffar have spit in our faces and trampled our rights. This cannot continue. I cannot speak of anything. Say your dua, sleep, and watch the news tomorrow. It will only be the beginning.” Maurer’s affadavit notes that “dua” is Arabic for prayers” and “kuffar” is a derogatory Arabic term extremists use for non-Muslims.”
Immediately prior to his arrest, prosecutors say Grimsley deleted his Whisper account and was in conversation via Facebook with user “Tim Tam.”
According to the affidavit, both Grimsley and “Tim Tam” were aware of law enforcement. Grimsley messaged “holy [expletive] I’m actually going to get raided” and “hurry up, van is outside,” to “Tim Tam.” The latter message was in apparent reference to Grimsley’s own efforts to encrypt his hard-drive, attached to screen shot of the encryption process at 57 percent.
“Tim Tam” sent a final message before FBI agents arrived at Grimsley’s apartment: “you’re [expletive] kiddo.” According to Maurer’s report, Grimsley’s computer was 63 percent encrypted at that point.
Grimsley was in front of a U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert T. Numbers II on Tuesday, Feb. 21, and charged with transmitting a threat in interstate commerce to injure the person of another, according to Bruce. If convicted, Grimsley will face up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. He will be back in federal court in Raleigh on Friday for a probable cause and detention hearing, according to court documents.
The FBI, Cary Police Department and the State Bureau of Investigation are investigating.
Below, the docket for Garrett Grimsley: