METAIRIE, La. – Two suburban New Orleans teenagers were arrested Friday and booked with terrorizing for allegedly posting threats on the Internet site MySpace against a shopping mall that instituted a weekend curfew for teens.
Jefferson Parish sheriff's deputies said Joseph L. Madsen of Metairie and Cory Odenwald of River Ridge, both 17, urged violent reprisal against Clearview Mall, a popular gathering place for young people in this suburban community.
In the MySpace postings, Madsen threatened to bring guns and Odenwald said he would back him up, said Chief Deputy Tom Gorman. Odenwald "intimated that life did not mean much to him," Gorman said.
Few details were available Friday about the teens, and it was unclear whether they were friends or simply Internet acquaintances.
Sheriff Newell Normand said the postings went up earlier this week. The sheriff's office and FBI began receiving calls about them Thursday and took the threats seriously.
The teens were booked as adults at the Jefferson Parish Correctional Center. If convicted, they face a maximum penalty of up to 15 years on the state charges.
Officers seized three handguns belonging to Madsen's father, which Normand said were shown in MySpace photos, when they arrested the teen at his home.
Joy Patton, spokeswoman for the mall, commended authorities for acting swiftly and said the curfew will continue. "It's our policy forever," she said.
Normand said the sheriff's office plans to install cameras at the property. Extra deputies will be stationed at the mall this weekend.
"I don't think kids today understand the power and strength of that medium (the Internet). Parents need to be a little more responsible. They need to be a little more snoopy," he said.
Normand said management of the mall, which is owned by a local partnership, has been working to heighten security for several years as large crowds of young people congregate there, especially on weekends.
He said deputies have had complaints of drug use and "13-14-15-year-olds having sex in the parking lot," adding the mall has done everything possible to cope with the problems.
"Clearview is not a playpen. Clearview is not a playground," he said.
Mall officials said extra security guards were brought in Feb. 15 to enforce a policy first set up last summer requiring anyone age 16 or younger to be accompanied by someone who is at least 21 after 4 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
Graffiti, holes punched in bathroom walls and bolts removed from chairs were among the mall's problems, but a fight in the food court on Feb. 9 was the final straw that prompted enforcement of the curfew, officials said.
Several juveniles severely beat a food court worker, mall general manager Tara Lubrano said. Clearview is one of the large malls on the east bank of Jefferson Parish. It has 44 stores as well as a movie complex.