EAST AURORA, N.Y. (WIVB) — A 16-year-old student at East Aurora High School will remain in custody at least through his next court appearance after being charged with a felony for threatening classmates.
“It was a pretty terrifying statement made,” said East Aurora Police Chief Shane Krieger.
Krieger said Tuesday the local teen threatened classmates directly on Monday, and then reiterated the threats on social media, making reference to the country’s most violent shooting in modern history.
The teen is charged with aggravated harassment, which is a misdemeanor, and making terroristic threats, a low-level felony.
Taking no chances, concerned parents, the school district and police acted quickly.
“There is a reason why, decades ago they made it illegal to yell fire in a movie theater, because people wind up getting hurt,” Krieger said.
Officers’ investigation led them to the teen’s home late Monday where he was arrested. They search the house, but Krieger said the teen did not appear to have access to weapons.
But in the wake of the Sin City killings, which claimed 59 lives and injured more than 500 more, this was far from an overreaction.
“You can’t make comments like that this day and age,” Krieger said. “Too many people die when somebody doesn’t speak up. And hopefully we prevented that today.”
Krieger also lauded the fact that, in this case, the system worked. Parents of students on the receiving end of threats alerted the school, which contacted the school resource officer and East Aurora police.
The teen was arraigned in town court Tuesday morning. He’s being held in juvenile detention pending his next court date on Tuesday and psychological evaluations.
“This individual deserves to be in jail until he can get a psychiatric evaluation to find out what’s going on here,” said Erie County District Attorney John Flynn, an East Aurora High School graduate.
“This young man was making statements the day after this tragedy occurred,” Flynn said. “And he was making specific statements, referencing what happened in Las Vegas and alluding to the fact that this could happen in East Aurora, NY. And when you make that link, you obviously have to take it very seriously.”
East Aurora High School’s Superintendent, Brian Russ, sent an email to parents saying school would open normally on Tuesday because the threat had been eliminated.
Russ wrote “Late last evening, the District received information regarding a potential threat at East Aurora High School. We immediately contacted East Aurora Police Department in order to investigate the potential threat and ensure the safety of all of our students and staff. In cooperation with the Police Department, the threat has been identified and the necessary steps have been taken to safely open school today.”
The student was suspended, Krieger said.