GALLIGAN: MULTIPLE STUDENTS FROM AREA SCHOOLS ARRESTED AFTER ONLINE THREATS OF VIOLENCE
Updated: Jan 7
Multiple students from area schools have been arrested and charged with Making a Terroristic Threat, a class D violent felony offense, according to Sullivan County District Attorney Meagan Galligan.
Galligan said in a written statement issued by the County today: "The intent of these students was to cause alarm and school closures rather than to actually physically hurt students, teachers and staff. Nonetheless, these threats are legally prohibited and these students will be held responsible and accountable for their actions in court."
Galligan said that those arrested "and others who were associated with the threats" spread on social media "face consequences at school up to and including expulsion."
The District Attorney did not quantify what she meant by "multiple" or identify what schools the students attended.
However, on Wednesday, Dr. Patrick Sullivan, the superintendent for Liberty Central School District, said:
"This afternoon, police have identified multiple individuals, including one Liberty student, believed to be responsible for a spate of social media threats made against two Sullivan County school districts. "
And Matthew T. Evans, superintendent of Monticello Schools, confirmed late Wednesday that his district was one that was a target of threats.
Fallsburg Central School District switched to remote learning today as a result of those threats, according to Superintendent Dr. Ivan Katz.
"Last night I became aware of a non-specific threat that has been posted on social media, " Katz posted today. "The threat is not specific in terms of naming Fallsburg or giving a time frame, but the message is still clear in terms of wanting to instill fear of harm with the idea of forcing school to close. While we did come to a conclusion about the posting that caused me to close school yesterday, this new posting that emerged last night is a new concern. "
Katz added that several parents reached out to him yesterday to express their concern about the online threats that have caused them concern about sending their kids to school "even though they appreciate the efforts being made by the school district and law enforcement. "
He added that the Fallsburg Police Department "did a great job in getting out there last night to investigate this and will continue investigating this today. "
Katz said that the goal of "our continued team effort is to work with our law enforcement agencies and to take each and every threat seriously. We will fully investigate each to the greatest extent possible."
Meanwhile, Eldred School District will pivot to remote learning on Friday, according to Superintendent John Morgano, who said there was no direct threat against the district but was concerned about the broader threats going around New York State.
"I will not and cannot take any chances with the safety of your children," Morgano said. One day of virtual instruction is a small price to pay to ensure the safety of Eldred students."
On Wednesday, Tri-Valley moved to a lockout protocol, according to Superintendent Dr. William Silver.
"This morning, out of an abundance of caution, the district called a lockout, " Silver said in a post. "During a lockout classes continue as scheduled and students move freely about the buildings, but no visitors are permitted in our schools."
Galligan's statement said that the disruption to schools and the investment of significant police and other resources "may result in further actions against those involved in providing access or otherwise furthering the dissemination of threats of mass violence."
"As we have seen nationwide, parents and those responsible for amplifying threats may be held responsible for the consequences of this behavior," Galligan said.
She added that "every legal remedy is being explored, including criminal and civil actions, as well as the possibility of lawsuits to recover restitution for costs relating to these investigations and shutdowns. "
The investigations are ongoing and more arrests are expected. Police agencies serving the County, including the Village of Liberty Police, Village of Monticello Police, Town of Fallsburg Police, Sheriff's Office and State Police are jointly conducting these investigations together with the District Attorney's Office.
Meanwhile, Dr. Kathleen Bressler, who becomes interim superintendent for Sullivan West Central School District in January, made the community aware of a social media threat made on Tik Tok regarding threats of violence against schools nationwide.
"After consulting with the Sullivan County Sheriff's Office and District Attorney Meagan Galligan, we were informed that there are currently no specific threats to the Sullivan West Central School District," Bressler wrote.