Facebook ‘threat’ leads to lockdown
Story by Eli Ruiz
LIBERTY February 22, 2013 A careless Facebook threat landed a Liberty Middle School student in hot water, and caused a brief districtwide “lockdown” Tuesday morning.
According to Village of Liberty Police chief Scott Kinne, sometime in the early hours of Tuesday morning a call came in to the New York State Police barracks on Route 55 in Liberty alerting authorities of the alleged threat.
Sources inside the district said a student posted a “Columbine-style” threat against the district on the popular social network. The state police then contacted the Liberty PD, triggering a police investigation and subsequent lockdown.
“The State Police assisted us and we were able to promptly locate the juvenile before school even started Tuesday morning,” said Kinne.
The investigation, which included an extensive search of the young suspect’s home, according to Kinne, garnered no weapons or bomb-making materials.
“Basically, just for the safety of the students, we initiated a lockdown before school started as a precaution… fortunately it was resolved before the start of the school day and the day proceeded as it normally would,” offered Kinne.
The suspect a minor was taken into custody without incident and subsequently summoned to Sullivan County Family Court where he was charged as a minor with making a terroristic threat, a felony. He was later released to his parent/guardian pending a future court date. School officials and local authorities declined to name the suspect due to his status as a minor.
“In this day and age, and with the heightened awareness due to recent events regarding these matters, incidents like these will never be taken lightly… and will be thoroughly investigated, and if someone can be held accountable, they will be held accountable; whether that be in Family Court or criminal court,” said Kinne. “Even though this was resolved before the school day started, it really showed us that having the measures we currently have in place, and having the lines of communication and cooperation we have in place between the police department and the school really works. It worked quickly and it solved the problem before the school day began so the students in the school were safe, and their normal school day was not influenced in any way.”
As far as the school’s disciplinary measures against the student involved in the incident, new Liberty Superintendent of Schools Dr. William Silver said, “The student was suspended, as the principal has the authority to suspend a student for up to five days.”
Silver also explained that the option of what’s called a “superintendent’s hearing” was “still on the table,” as if warranted the superintendent’s hearing would be the only way for the district to move forward with an expulsion of the student.
“Every potential threat is taken seriously and investigated,” said Silver. “The threat turned out not to be credible, and the school day was not interrupted due to this situation. We appreciate the quick action of Liberty Police Chief Scott Kinne, the New York State Police, and Liberty faculty and staff.”