INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.– Buster Hernandez, aka “Brian Kil,” appeared in federal court in Indianapolis Wednesday in connection with cyber threats at Plainfield schools.
Hernandez was arrested in California on Thursday, Aug. 3, after a months-long investigation into threats targeting schools in Plainfield and Danville as well as a shopping center and movie theater. The threats prompted the schools to close.
The hearing wrapped up around 3:45 p.m. During the court appearance, a probable cause hearing and detention hearing were scheduled for Friday, Sept. 8 at 1:30 p.m.
Hernandez, who is now 27, appeared calm and comfortable in the courtroom during the hearing. He answered questions from Magistrate Judge Mark Dinsmore with short, one-word statements. He did not ask any questions during the hearing.
FOX59 had a sketch artist in court Wednesday to draw photos of Hernandez, as mug shots are not released during federal cases.
Among those in the courtroom were several former Plainfield High School students who were seniors at the time the threats forced their school to close. After the hearing, they spoke about seeing Hernandez in person for the first time.
"It’s crazy, for a year and a half we had a name and that name wasn’t a real name, that name was Brian Kil," said Madison Hamernik. "Now we have a name for him and seeing his face it’s not really what you expect. For the longest time you don’t really even have a good imagination of a face, you have the name and you have the thoughts but you don’t even put a face to it until now."
"You see him and hear how he talks and you don’t think that he has that the capability to do something that he did," said Savannah Loudermilk. "It’s crazy, he didn't look the part."
During a news conference on Aug. 7, U.S. Attorney Josh Minkler said Hernandez, who used the online name “Brian Kil,” wanted to be the “worst cyberterrorist who ever lived.” Hernandez is charged with with sexual exploitation of a child, threats to use an explosive device and threats to injure.
Investigators say Hernandez never set foot in Indiana while his online threats prompted the closures of Plainfield and Danville High Schools, as well as the Shoppes at Perry Crossing.
He’s accused of several cases of sextortion, including one that targeted a Plainfield teenager. Federal authorities say Hernandez has victims in 10 different communities in several states. On the east coast, his alleged crimes became known as the "Purge of Maine."
During Wednesday's hearing, prosecutor Tiffany Preston asked the judge that Hernandez remain in federal custody until and during his trial, calling him a danger to the community and a flight risk. Hernandez is disputing that. A probable cause hearing and detention hearing will be held Friday, September 8 at 1:30p.m.
The federal charge of sexual exploitation of a child carries a possible sentence of 15 to 30 years in prison, with a maximum $250,000 fine. The charge of threatening to use an explosive device carries a possible sentence up to 10 years, with a maximum $250,000 fine. The charge of threatening to harm has a possible 5-year sentence, with a maximum $250,000 fine.