Police officers were at Niskayuna High School on Monday, investigating a rumor that a shooting was going to happen at the school on Halloween.
The Police Department received confidential information Sunday about a potential threat, according to Police Chief John Lubrant.
“After delving into the rumors and talking to some individuals, we find that there’s no factual basis for that and also no immediate or apparent concern for it to be a threat in the future,” he said.
Lubrant said police do not have any reasons to believe that the rumor was tied to emails sent to three Niskayuna High School students last week directing them to YouTube videos of a threatening nature. The two videos have since been removed from the website.
Police are continuing to analyze the computers to determine who sent the videos, according to Lubrant. Detectives have spoken with about a half-dozen people including the victims.
“It is a priority matter for us. It is being expedited,” he said.
He hoped to have additional information very soon. Additional resources are being brought in to assist Niskayuna police with the investigation, said Lubrant, who did not want to elaborate.
The person or persons who sent the video could potentially face misdemeanor charges of aggravated harassment.
High school Principal John Rickert informed parents in an email sent Sunday night that there was a rumor of a third YouTube video, one that made a shooting threat. Superintendent Susan Kay Salvaggio said school officials and police have confirmed the existence of only the first two videos.
“We have a lot of rumor and speculation. It seems to mostly be a spinoff from these videos. Pretty much that anything that comes their way, they’re checking out.”
Salvaggio was at school greeting students for the first 45 minutes of the day. Other than students in Halloween costumes, she said, there was not anything unusual about the day.
However, about 8 percent of the student body was not in school, according to the district, which is higher than its normal absentee rate of 5 percent.
Salvaggio called the videos disturbing. They were set to rap music and consisted of a lot of innuendo and name-calling.
There was no specific threat of what the person who made the video was going to do.
“They were clearly threatening,” she said. “That is not within the realm of what we view to be acceptable or safe or normal at Niskayuna or at any other school.”
Salvaggio said she believes some parents are frustrated by the lack of answers. However, the district does not have any answers to give at this time. School officials do not have the technology to be able to track down the videos’ origin.
“You can’t just call YouTube and make them tell you where they came from,” she said.
School officials put a letter on the district website, asking parents not to spread rumors, which are creating a “less than ideal” atmosphere on campus. Salvaggio also urged parents to pay attention to their children’s Internet use. “We’re taking all the steps that we can and need to keep our school safe,” she said.
Anyone with information was asked to contact police at 374-3159, or to call the high school administrators: Rickert at 382-2511, ext. 21702 or [email protected]; Assistant Principal Rebecca Gleason at 382-2511 ext. 21709 or [email protected]; or Assistant Principal Mark Treanor at 382-2511 ext. 21704 or [email protected]
School officials also encouraged parents to sign up for the principal’s email notification list, the Niskayuna School News Notifier, at snn.neric.org/niskayuna/ and the PTO’s Buzzable mailing list www.niskypto.org/Mailing-Lists.html.
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