Highland High School has lifted a “shelter in place” order put into effect this afternoon while law enforcement investigated a disturbing social media post. According to Superintendent of Schools Thomas Bongiovi, the building has now been cleared.
Law enforcement was made aware of comments posted on social media Wednesday night that referenced past acts of school violence and included threatening language, no though specific threat was made about Highland High School or any other specific location. According to the Ulster County Sheriff’s Department, the posts referenced Norwegian terrorist Anders Behring Breivik. Breivik was convicted in 2012 of terrorist attack that killed 77 people in Norway.
When officers from the Town of Lloyd Police Dept. were made aware of the post today, they responded quickly and took the 15-year-old student who posted the comments into custody for questioning. Searches of two separate homes where the teen resides, in Esopus and Plattekill, found no weapons or items of concern.
Police did not specific the charge against the teen, saying only that if committed by an adult it would be the felony of making a terroristic threat. The suspect will appear in Ulster County Family Court on a later date.
While that was taking place, the high school was put into “shelter in place” mode and a police K9 unit swept the building in an abundance of caution to ensure the safety of all concerned. Officials did not believe there were any weapons on campus. The “shelter in place” began at approximately 12:55 p.m. and was lifted at 1:25 p.m., according to the district.
“We understand that situations such as this can cause anxiety and great concern,” Bongiovi wrote in his statement. “Anytime a message like this one is needed, our goal is not to foster fear, but to be transparent and reassure parents that we are taking the proper steps to ensure safety. We respond to all reported threats and treat them as credible until there is ample evidence that they are not. Please know we have an excellent relationship with the Town of Lloyd Police and work in partnership with them on a daily basis to continue to keep our schools safe.”