On Friday Aug. 31, Saugerties Police received a complaint from the Saugerties School District concerning a Facebook posting in which an individual made a threat of violence against a school. The posting stated: “I wanna just go to the gd [god damn] school and shoot it up rn [right now] I don’t give a fuck if I got (sic) to jail.”
Saugerties Police initiated an investigation into the posting, determining the author was 18-year-old Alexander Scott McLain, a registered 10th grade student in the Onteora School District. Working with the Onteora School District superintendent, the Onteora High School District school resource officer, Saugerties Police school resource officer, and the Saugerties School District superintendent’s office, police were able to locate McLain, now residing in the village of Saugerties.
According to police, McLain was interviewed and admitted to making the post and several other posts, stating he was directing his anger toward Onteora High because of a recent communication he had received. Investigation by police established that McLain did not own any firearms himself.
“It was a Facebook posting and he admitted that he was angry towards the school district,” said Saugerties police chief Joseph Sinagra. “When we interviewed him he said his anger was directed towards the Onteora school district. He received some communication from the school district and was disappointed. He was looking to become a Saugerties student and received some communication regarding his academic status which would have prevented that from happening.”
Saugerties Police, with the assistance of the Ulster County District Attorney’s Office, continued to investigate the threat and on Saturday Sept. 1, McLain was arrested and charged with the felony of making a terroristic threat. Mclain was processed at Saugerties Police Headquarters and then arraigned in the Village of Saugerties Justice Court, where he was remanded to the Ulster County Jail in lieu of $25,000 cash bail or $75,000 bond. McLain is scheduled to return to Village of Saugerties Justice Court on Sept. 6 to answer his charge. A stay away order of protection was issued on behalf of the Onteora Central School District by the justice court.
“The whole Saugerties community should be very proud of the students who attend here,” said district business manager Lissa Jilek. “In the past year we had a credible threat, and it started with. ‘See something, say something.’ And that is so important, those four little words: ‘See something, say something.’
“It cannot be diminished,” Jilek added. “It will be taken seriously and investigated, just like this past threat this weekend, to the fullest.”
In a statement posted on the district web site, Onteora Superintendent Victoria McLaren wrote: “I have been informed that a student recently made comments of a threatening nature on a private Facebook page, which may have been directed at the Onteora school district. The Town of Saugerties Police Department conducted an extensive investigation and deemed the threat to be not credible, as they believe there was neither actual intent nor means available to act upon the threatening comments.
“However, regardless of whether or not there was intent, this behavior is unacceptable and will not be tolerated. Charges have been filed, and legal action is being pursued. In today’s world, our children must understand the seriousness of their words and be held accountable for them. Please remind your children about the serious consequences that come with such actions. Also, encourage them to never hesitate to share anything that they see or hear that makes them feel uncomfortable or unsafe.”
This is the third time in the last year that local threats to schools have spurred arrests.
A February 21 Snapchat message led to the arrest of Connor Chargois, a Saugerties High School student who was caught, police said, with a cache of illegal guns and ammunition in his basement in February after threatening social media posts.
Chargois and his father Bruce, 58, of Saugerties, were both charged on Feb. 27 for felony third-degree criminal possession of a weapon, which could get both a maximum of seven years in state prison. They are due in County Court September 6.
In March, Henry Reilly, a 23 year old Saugerties man was arrested and charged with the federal crime of making a terroristic threat. He then pled guilty to a reduced misdemeanor charge of falsely reporting an incident.