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Threat

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Ward Melville High School. File photo by Greg Catalano

Two students in Three Village Central School District were schooled on what not to post online.

On the morning of March 14, before high school students staged a walkout joining teens across the nation to demand stricter gun legislation, the administrative staff at Ward Melville High School was notified of a social media posting allegedly made by a student. The posting was a cause for concern, according to an email to parents from Superintendent Cheryl Pedisich. The student was removed from school and the Suffolk County Police Department was notified.

Later that afternoon, parents received another email from Pedisich. The superintendent said in the message the SCPD closed the investigation after concluding “the posting was a foolish decision and a lack of proper judgment by the individual.”

The school district sent a message once again the morning of March 15. The administrative staff was notified of another concerning post allegedly made by a student. Later in the day, Pedisich notified parents that the SCPD determined there was no credible threat to the safety or security of students and staff.

“As part of their investigation, the police were informed that the photo in question had originally been shared privately with another individual and subsequently posted publicly online by an additional third party,” Pedisich wrote in the email.

In the notification, the superintendent shared advice when it comes to posting on social media, asking parents to remind students to think twice when it comes to what they share digitally.

“In light of today’s and yesterday’s incidents, I cannot stress enough the importance of creating a heightened sense of awareness for the appropriate and proper use of social media and other communication devices,” Pedisich wrote. “Students need to understand that what is shared digitally — whether it be via text, Facebook, Instagram or any other medium — is not private. Those thoughts, photos and comments that are shared can be and are often seen, shared and interpreted by anyone, anywhere and at any time.”

The superintendent wrote that while it was disheartening to have to issue two concurrent messages about students’ inappropriate postings, she was grateful for those who brought the matters to the district’s attention.

“Our parents and all residents are an integral part in helping to ensure that our safety and security is not compromised,” she wrote, “I continue to encourage anyone who sees, hears or notices something suspicious to inform the district immediately.”

Parents also speak of concerns of notification of recent school threat

Shoreham-Wading River High School is located at 250A Route 25A in Shoreham. File photo by Kevin Redding

At Shoreham-Wading River’s board of education meeting March 6, 11th grader Sarah Acerra took to the podium and spoke up in light of the recent Florida tragedy.

Shoreham-Wading River junior Sarah Acerra took to the podium during a recent board of education meeting to voice her concerns over school safety. Photo by Kevin Redding

“What is being done to make us students feel more safe?” Acerra asked board members.

The junior said she recalled a threat made by a student last year — Thursday, March 16, 2017 — via text message that “something might occur” at the high school. The student who sent the text was quickly identified and dealt with by the district and plans were put in place for locker and school bag searches the following school day. But Acerra, who said many of her peers stayed home upon hearing about the threat, did not feel safe when she arrived back at the high school the next day.

“I walked into school a little before 7 that morning — I remember it perfectly because nobody checked my bag and none of my friends’ bags were checked either,” she said. “So the rest of the day was very uneasy for all of us because we didn’t know what was going to happen. Even though the kid had been caught, there was no guarantee that there wasn’t anybody else involved with the threat.”

Another high school junior, Kathleen Loscalzo, spoke of her anxiety when it comes to who is able to enter the buildings. Loscalzo said she saw a former student, who moved to another state in seventh grade, in one of her classes this year. When asked if she recently moved back to Shoreham, the former student said, “No, I was visiting and they just let me in.”

“If someone my age who doesn’t go to school here just put on a backpack and walked in with everybody else, there would be no way [of knowing].”

— Kathleen Loscalzo

Loscalzo raised concerns over the student’s identification cards, which she said are not especially needed for anything except buying lunch in the cafeteria.

“I know many other schools have IDs they have to wear like a lanyard,” Loscalzo said. “If someone my age who doesn’t go to school here just put on a backpack and walked in with everybody else, there would be no way [of knowing].”

On the subject of social media threats, Jennifer Donnelly, a mother of a ninth-grader in the district, addressed a vague email sent out to parents by Poole on March 4 regarding a threat, which, according to the letter, was “investigated with the support of law enforcement who deemed the threat to not be criminal” and appropriate disciplinary actions were made.

“A lot of people, myself included, were really uncomfortable sending my kids to school after that,” Donnelly said asking for more clarification in these emergency emails. “There was nothing about who this threat was from, what the threat was, what the level of the threat was, what was done … And, with security being put in place, I feel like, ‘Well, what’s going to happen immediately tomorrow if someone comes through the door?’”

Superintendent Gerard Poole thanked both students and Donnelly for weighing in and assured them that the district has been reviewing and working toward strengthening its security and safety measures since before the Parkland, Florida shooting.

Shoreham-Wading River high school junior Kathleen Loscalzo said a former student was able to enter the building and visit a class of hers without being asked who she was upon entering the highs school. Photo by Kevin Redding

Frequent evacuation, lockdown and lockout drills currently take place throughout the year, and a combined $2 million investment over the past few has included security hardware additions and infrastructure improvements, like burglar alarm systems, enhanced video monitoring, elementary vestibules and School Active Violence Emergency (SAVE) hotlines installed in each building. Poole outlined to parents and students in attendance future projects to beef up security. These include:

  • Adding security guards in the high school; the district’s security supervisor said of arming them, “I think there’s a long laundry list of items that should be discussed in detail surrounding that — a legal piece, a training piece, a tactical piece. I know there’s an urgency to do something, but there’s a lot that needs to be done first.”
  • The construction of a high school vestibule to begin this spring with projected completion in summer 2020; the middle school vestibule will be completed this summer.
  • The installation of a Raptor Visitor Management System in all buildings this spring, a web-based monitoring software designed to track visitors and electronically check them against public databases.
  • The implementation of ballistic security film designed to prevent glass from shattering on impact and delay an intruder’s entry.
  • The consideration of metal detectors in the schools.

The district also recently completed a security audit and developed a “multi-pronged plan” for strong enhancement and has in place a recently-hired security consultant firm — Covert Operations — to enhance its plans, drills and overall preparedness in an emergency situation. The firm regularly reviews and improves security and safety measures.

“We are certainly in a strong position to ensure the safety of our students, staff and visitors,” Poole said.

Port Jefferson High School. File photo by Elana Glowatz

Just days after a shooting killed 17 at a high school in Florida, a threat was made via social media against Port Jefferson High School, according to an email sent to parents in the district by Superintendent Paul Casciano.

“Today our high school administration was made aware of an alleged threat via social media,” Casciano’s email said. The message went out just before midnight Feb. 15. “An investigation was conducted and all appropriate protocols were followed, including the involvement of law enforcement authorities. School will be open tomorrow as planned. Extra precautions will be put in place to reassure our students and staff that they are safe. Thank you for your cooperation and understanding.”

The district sent out an update to parents on the situation Friday afternoon and posted the message on its website.

“While I know that there are many questions that you may have, please understand that there is a limit to the amount of information we are permitted to share publicly about this type of situation,” Casciano said in the notice to parents. “Please know that the individual responsible for the threat has been identified and that our district is complying with the Suffolk County Police Department with their ongoing investigation into this matter. Our top priority is the safety and security of our students and staff and we are working diligently to ensure that all of our available resources are deployed as extra precautions.”

The superintendent’s message sought in part to dispel what her referred to as “a firestorm of rumors,” on social media.

“At no time today or yesterday were any of our campuses on lockdown/lockout, no evacuation occurred and no bomb threat was made against any of our school facilities,” he said. “The police presence on campus was intended to put our parents and students at ease and was a direct result on the before mentioned ongoing investigation.”

Casciano shared details about the district’s preparedness for an active shooter situation prior to the news about the threat.

“It is important for us to establish an environment for students and staff that is safe and secure physically, mentally and emotionally,” he said. “We conduct drills on a regular basis with our staff and students. We have security guards in place and question visitors to our schools. Our staff knows to report any suspicious people on or around our school property. Security cameras exist throughout our property. We are working collaboratively with the Suffolk County Police Department to identify areas for continued attention moving forward … Internally, we are working with students through a variety of programs and strategies to address their social-emotional health.”

The Suffolk County Police Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment. School will be closed next week for mid-winter recess.

This story was updated Feb. 16 to include Casciano’s Friday afternoon update.

This story will be updated as more information is available.

Reporting contributed by Kevin Redding.

 

Shoreham-Wading River High School. File photo by Kevin Redding

Shoreham-Wading River school district officials took action Thursday night following a threat to one of their schools.

On March 16, an anonymous text message to a student in the early morning threatened that “something might occur” at the high school March 17. The student who received the text reported it to district administrators,  who put in place procedures, which entailed searching lockers and school bags in addition to adding overnight security, upon hearing the news of the threat.

“We had a good plan in place to ensure the safety of our students,” superintendent Neil Lederer said. “Fortunately, we didn’t have to implement it because we identified the individual late last night.”

The student who sent the text will receive “appropriate consequences.”

“At this point there is no threat and the situation has been successfully resolved,” Lederer said in a letter on the school district’s website. “We take very seriously the potential threat to the safety of our schools and immediately notified the Suffolk County Police Department. The health, safety and welfare of our students and staff are always out main priority. Please know that every precaution is taken on a daily basis to protect the safety of our students and staff and to provide a secure learning environment for all.”

Back in January, the high school was also informed of an Instagram threat. The student was immediately identified and disciplinary measures were also administered in that case. Authorities were also notified and involved in the investigation in that case. It is unclear whether the two incidents are at all related.

Lederer did not respond to questions for comment.

The Suffolk County Police Department has not yet responded to requests for comment.

Updates will follow when more information is available.

Car trouble
Things got a little crazy on Woodhull Avenue in Port Jefferson Station on July 4, at around 10:05 p.m., when someone threw items at a 2013 Hyundai and damaged a car door.

Midnight mischief
An unknown person slashed the driver side tire of a 2007 Hyundai parked on Route 112 in Port Jefferson Station on July 3.

Ride denied
A woman reported being harassed by a cab driver on June 30 at around 3 p.m. According to police, the complainant said she called a cab service to pick her up from a dollar store in Port Jefferson Station, but the driver refused to take her. He then allegedly pushed her and took her grocery bags out of the cab and drove away.

Poor house
An unknown person stole cash from the register at L.I. Pour House Bar and Grill in Port Jefferson Station on June 29 at around 1:30 a.m.

Explosive
A Mount Sinai Grasslands Circle resident reported their mailbox and garage door had been damaged by some sort of explosives on July 3.

Making waves
An unknown person took a 2006 motor from a boat moored in Mount Sinai Harbor on July 5 at some point between midnight and noon.

Seeing red
There were two separate road rage incidents in Centereach last week. According to police, on July 2, a victim was driving northbound on Nicolls Road by Hammond Road in Centereach when they encountered the suspect, who, at some point, punched the victim in the face. The suspect took off.
Two days later, on July 4, a female driver reported that while at an exit ramp of Nicolls Road in Centereach, six males on motorcycles began kicking her 2013 Hyundai and slashed its tires.

Getaway
A Fountain Avenue in Selden resident, outside his home on June 30, reported seeing someone walking with a satchel or pillowcase on his street. When he returned to his apartment, he found the suspect inside his residence. The two began fighting and the suspect fled with a stolen silver bracelet, kindle and phone charger.

Long weekend
A 21-year-old Mount Sinai resident was arrested in Selden and charged with DWI-first offense on July 3. According to police, the man was pulled over after he failed to stop at a stop sign while driving a 1998 Honda northbound on Bicycle Path.

Pills and pocketbooks
A 26-year-old Sound Beach man was arrested in Selden and charged with seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance and fourth-degree grand larceny. According to police, he was arrested on July 2 and was found in possession of Xanax without a prescription. Police said the man is also accused of breaking into a 2010 Volkswagen on June 25 in Port Jefferson and stealing a pocketbook containing credit cards.

Bank robber sought
Suffolk County Police are seeking the public’s help in identifying and locating a man who allegedly robbed a Centereach bank in June.
On Friday, June 26, a man entered the People’s United Bank, located on Middle Country Road, approached a teller at approximately 11:30 a.m. and presented a note demanding cash. The teller complied and the man fled on foot.
Police described the suspect as white, between 45 and 50 years old and approximately 5 feet 7 inches tall with a heavy build. He was wearing a black T-shirt, dark jeans, sunglasses and what appears to be a dark-colored baseball cap.
Suffolk County Crime Stoppers offers a cash reward of up to $5,000 for information that leads to an arrest. Anyone with information about this crime is asked to call anonymously to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-220-TIPS. All calls will be kept confidential.
For video of the bank robbery, go to www.YouTube.com/scpdtv. Click on the link “Wanted for Bank Robbery CC# 15-370331.”
Luck of the draw
Someone stole keys and Yu-Gi-Oh! collector cards from a 2009 Hyundai parked at AMC Loews Stony Brook 17 on Nesconset Highway in Stony Brook sometime between July 3 at 10:45 p.m. and July 4 at 1:30 a.m. There are no arrests.

Louis Vuitton bag stolen
Someone took a Louis Vuitton pocketbook, cash, a wallet and clothing from a 2015 Toyota 4Runner parked in the lot at Marshall’s on Nesconset Highway in Stony Brook. The incident happened sometime between 5 and 6 p.m. on July 1.

Laptop lifted
Police said someone took an Apple Macbook Pro computer from an unlocked 2002 Nissan Altima sometime between 6 and 7 p.m. on July 1 on Nesconset Highway in Stony Brook. There are no arrests.

Grandma scammed
A Setauket woman who is a resident of Francis Street told police on July 1 that she was the victim of a phone scam. She said someone called her saying her grandson was arrested after being involved in a car crash and that she needed to send money to get him home. She sent money via MoneyGram.

Checked out
Someone stole the identity of an Upper Sheep Pasture Road man from Setauket-East Setauket and took money from his JP Morgan Chase checking account. Police said the incident occurred sometime between June 2 at 9 a.m. and June 30 at 2:05 p.m.

Police search for pickpocket
Suffolk County Police are seeking the public’s help in identifying and locating a couple who are wanted for questioning in a grand larceny investigation in Commack.
A man and woman were shopping in Dress Gala, located on Jericho Turnpike, on May 21 at approximately 5:10 p.m. when the man reached into an employee’s pocketbook and stole credit cards.
Suffolk County Crime Stoppers offers a cash reward of up to $5,000 for information that leads to an arrest. Anyone with information about this crime is asked to call anonymously to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-220-TIPS. All calls will be kept confidential.

Shoplifter busted
Police said a 42-year-old man from Hauppauge was arrested on July 5 at the 4th Precinct and charged with petit larceny. According to police, the man stole a garbage pail, sleepwear, lunch bag, socks and other clothing from Walmart on Veterans Memorial Highway in Islandia on July 5 at 11:53 a.m.

That’s my $50
An 18-year-old man from St. James was arrested on July 3 at the 4th Precinct and charged with fifth-degree criminal possession of stolen property. Police said that the man had $50 that belonged to someone else. The alleged crime occurred on Old Dock Road in Kings Park on July 1 at 11:30 p.m., police said.

Joy ride cut short
Police arrested a 20-year-old Commack man in Smithtown on July 2 and charged him with driving while ability impaired by drugs and alcohol — the drug being marijuana. Police said that on July 2 at 12:12 a.m., on Route 25A at West Jericho Turnpike in Smithtown, the man was driving a 1997 Ford and failed to maintain his lane. He was arrested at the scene.

Taking it off
A 50-year-old man from Middle Island was arrested at the 4th Precinct on July 2 and charged with lewdness — exposing his body in public. Police said the man exposed his private parts on June 30 while parked in a car at 7-Eleven on Motor Parkway in Hauppauge at 1:02 p.m.

Justice served
Police said they arrested a 27-year-old man from Astoria on July 1 who punched another man in the face while he was sitting in a chair at Napper Tandy’s on East Main Street in Smithtown on May 24. The man required medical attention for his injuries. The 27-year-old was arrested at the 4th Precinct at about 5:25 p.m.

A case of road rage
Two men who were involved in a car accident on Route 347 in Smithtown got into a fit of road rage, according to police. One man got out of the car and started yelling at the other man, grabbing him. The two eventually punched each other. Both plan to press charges, police said. The incident happened westbound on Route 347 on July 2, between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m.

iPad grab busted
Suffolk County Police arrested three individuals in connection with stealing 12 Apple iPads from Walmart on Crooked Hill Road in Commack on Aug. 25, 2014 at about 7:30 p.m. Police said a 20-year-old woman from Bay Shore, a 24-year-old man from Waterbury and a 32-year-old woman from Bellport were all charged with third-degree grand larceny. Each in the trio was arrested on different dates ranging from May 18 to June 27.

What a blow
A 23-year-old man from Kings Park was arrested in Smithtown on June 28 and charged with third-degree assault with intent to cause physical injury. Police said that on Nov. 16, 2014, at about 12:21 a.m., the man hit another man on the top of his head, causing a laceration. The incident happened on Pulaski Road in Kings Park. The victim had to go to St. Catherine of Siena Medical Center in Smithtown.

Get drunk, crash and flee
Suffolk County Police arrested a 66-year-old man from Nesconset on June 27 and charged him with driving while intoxicated and leaving the scene of an accident where there was property damage. Police said the man, who was driving a 2002 Jeep, struck a 2005 Jeep three times on Route 347 in Nesconset at 10:12 p.m. on June 27, causing damage. He then fled the scene without exchanging information, and was later stopped and charged with driving while intoxicated.

CVS shoplifted
Police arrested a 24-year-old man from Nesconset on June 25 and charged him with petit larceny. Police said the man stole merchandise — they couldn’t say exactly what — from a CVS on Middle Country Road in Centereach on May 15 at 5:44 p.m. He was arrested at his home on Truval Lane at about 6:30 p.m.

Back up and out
A 63-year-old woman from Kings Park was arrested at her home on Kohr Road for first-degree leaving the scene of an accident and failing to show license/identification. The woman was arrested on June 28 for an incident that occurred on June 18 at 4:35 p.m. Police said the woman, who was driving a 2010 Nissan, backed into a 2014 Lexus on Broadhollow Road in Melville and fled.

Busted with syringes
Police arrested a 23-year-old man from Northport on June 27 and charged him with possession of a hypodermic instrument. Police said the man possessed hypodermic syringes in his vehicle on Pulaski Road in Kings Park on June 27 at 12:26 p.m. He was arrested at the scene.

Shattered windows
Someone reported to police that windows were broken on a vacant building located on Maple Avenue in Smithtown sometime between June 2 and June 28. There are no arrests.

This trash is on fire
A garbage pail full of yard debris on Dewey Street in Port Jefferson Station was burned at some point between June 27 and June 28.

I spy punches
A 24-year-old man was arrested in front of Junior’s Spycoast bar on Main Street in Port Jefferson at around 2:30 a.m. and was charged with second-degree harassment after he pushed and attempted to punch a police officer.

Designer thief
Between June 25 at 6 p.m. and June 26 at 10:30 a.m. an unknown person took items, including a Michael Kors bag and money, from a Volkswagen and a Toyota parked on Jamaica Avenue in Port Jefferson.

Insta-threat
A Mount Sinai resident reported on June 26 that a high-school-aged girl threatened a male student over Instagram.

Full throttle
The front fender of a Harley-Davidson parked at a Pipe Stave Hollow Road residence in Mount Sinai was damaged at some point between June 22 and June 24.

Details
A 2014 Toyota’s paint was damaged while parked at a residence on Oakland Avenue in Miller Place on June 25 between 1 a.m. and 9 a.m.

Snooping
A North Country Road homeowner in Miller Place reported on June 24 that the panel of a back door was damaged and a person possibly went through items in their home.

Beach party gone wrong
A security guard at the beach off of Friendship Drive in Rocky Point was struck in the head by a bottle. According to police, at around 10:40 p.m. on June 24, the guard had asked a group of youths to leave the beach and the individuals started throwing bottles. The guard wasn’t injured and no arrests have been made.

Tired of this
A customer at a Centereach Goodyear Service Center was accused of harassment and causing public alarm after he entered the Middle Country Road business on June 28 and demanded his car be fixed. The man then pushed the complainant after being told he would have to wait.

Imperial Civil War
A 29-year-old man was arrested on Imperial Drive in Selden on June 24 after he went to a residence and ran up to the complainant, swinging his fists, and then wrestled the man to the ground. The man is charged with second-degree harassment.

No happy meal
Police said a group of teens damaged a fence in the parking lot of McDonald’s  on Nesconset Highway at Stony Brook. There are no arrests.

Money taken
Someone broke in through the side door of Dunkin’ Donuts on Main Street in Setauket-East Setauket and stole money, sometime between 11 p.m. and 3:30 a.m. from June 27 to June 28. There are no arrests.

Boat burglary
Someone entered a boat docked at Setauket Harbor and stole safety flairs and a toolbox, sometime between June 20 and June 28. There are no arrests.

Package stolen
Someone lifted a packaged delivered to a home on Old Town Road in Setauket-East Setauket sometime between June 26 and June 27. There are no arrests.

Car keyed
Police said someone keyed a 2008 Cadillac Escalade parked at Walmart on Nesconset Highway sometime between 7:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. on June 25.