A 24-year-old man who sent a bizarre, threatening email to an acquaintance Thursday afternoon was detained by local authorities Friday pending an investigation and a psychiatric evaluation.
In the Thursday email, Ryan Matthew Shepard of Jacksonville stated: "Hopefully, if (expletive) goes how I think it is, you'll be seeing me on the news pretty soon and not the good kind."
Shepard remained in custody Friday morning. A cursory review of his background reveals two driver's licenses — one to a residence in Jacksonville and other in Bullard.
Jacksonville Police Det. Greg Compton said Shepard is being detained in light of recent, tragic events such as the Connecticut school massacre earlier this month that claimed the lives of 20 children and six staff members,
Officials as high-up as Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin have urged school and law enforcement agencies to be "especially vigilant" following that school shooting — a philosophy with which Compton said the Jacksonville PD wholeheartedly agrees. Jacksonville Police wanted to be forward-looking in connection with the case, he said.
"Hopefully, we prevented something from happening," Compton said. "We don't know if he was serious, but we are going to treat the case as if he was. We want the public to be aware of him and what he said in his email and reassure everyone we are being proactive."
The person who received the email immediately contacted Jacksonville police. Authorities are hoping that anyone with knowledge of what Shepard was talking about will call them immediately at 903-586-2546.
The review of Shepard's background by a Jacksonville Daily Progress reporter did not immediately reveal any criminal or psychiatric history. But authorities, who were combing social media networks such as Facebook for information, said they aren't willing to take chances.
"My partner (Jacksonville Police Det. Javier Guerra) and I went to his house this morning and talked to him," Compton said. "He denied sending any email. We brought him to the PD and still he denied any email or knowledge of comments of this nature. I confronted him with the text of the email and he still denied knowing anything about it."
Authorities say Shepard — who sports a large tattoo covering much of the right side of his face — was not being truthful with them when asked several basic questions.
"The fact that he has denied knowledge of those other things troubles me greatly," Compton said Friday morning. "He is in our custody right now on traffic warrants and we will hold him here until later this afternoon, when the doctors will visit with him. We just what to make sure the public has the factual information."
Again, anyone with knowledge of what Shepard meant in his email is urged to call Jacksonville Police immediately at 903-586-2546.