Niskayuna police: Arrest made in Van Antwerp school threat

Suspect under the age of 16
Van Antwerp Middle School in 2013
Van Antwerp Middle School in 2013

NISKAYUANA — A Van Antwerp Middle School student made the threat earlier this month that placed the school on lockdown, police said Tuesday.

The student, who is under the age of 16, threatened violence in a note found there in a bathroom June 8, authorities said. During a meeting with parents and staff Tuesday night, Superintendent Cosimo Tangorra Jr. said the note threated to “shoot up the school.”

The student faces one count of making a terroristic threat, a felony, and aggravated harassment, a misdemeanor. The case was referred to Schenectady County Family Court because of his age. His name was also not released due to his age.

Someone found the threatening note at about 2:30 p.m. that day and the district quickly placed the school on lockdown while police investigated. No one was allowed to enter.

The Niskayuna police responded and searched the building with the help of Schenectady police and their K-9, as well as school staff. Police search all of the school’s classrooms, lockers and patted down all students as the lockdown stretched multiple hours after the traditional dismissal time. 

No credible threat was found, but students were kept in the school past 5 p.m. as parents gathered outside.

During the Tuesday meeting, which district officials described as a public debriefing about how the threat was handled, parents raised concerns about how long it took for students to ultimately be let out of school and the way the threat was communicated to parents. Tangorra said the district is continually refining its procedures for handling threats as well as for conducting drills throughout the school year.

Niskayuna Police Chief Dan McManus was on hand for the public meeting, explaining why it took multiple hours to serach the school  and students before determining it was safe to release them.

“It does take time but every decision we made was done with one thing in mind: the safety of students and staff,” McManus said. “We understand that the delays are frustrating, but they are all done with that one thing in mind.”


Categories: News, Schenectady County

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