Four Saratoga County boys face charges Tuesday after a student made a threat online about a shooting at a Ballston Spa Central School District school and investigators uncovered a blank pistol on school grounds, according to the Saratoga County Sheriff's Office.
The investigation quickly zeroed in on the four boys, ages 13 to 15, and the look-alike pistol, sheriff's officials said. A 14-year-old faces a juvenile felony charge of making a terroristic threat via Instagram; the other three face juvenile weapons possession counts. The teens are all from either Milton or Ballston Spa.
School district administrators first learned of the threat posted to Instagram on Tuesday morning and immediately contacted the sheriff's school outreach officers. The district also immediately placed both the middle and high schools on full lockdown about 8:15 a.m. as the investigation began, officials said.
Deputies and investigators responded and quickly uncovered information that a student had brought a weapon that turned out to be what sheriff's officials described as a blank pistol that looked identical to a real pistol.
The students were referred to the Saratoga County Probation Department and Family Court.
Saratoga County Sheriff Michael Zurlo commended the district. He said it responded exactly as it should have. The sheriff's office regularly works with school districts in the county on how to respond to threat scenarios, Zurlo said.
"Once the school found out, they immediately called us and put the school on lockdown," Zurlo said. "It was great teamwork."
Ballston Spa Superintendent Joseph P. Dragone issued a statement to parents on the district's website thanking parents for their patience and cooperation.
"I want to recognize the high/middle school administrative team for acting quickly and decisively when learning about an online threat," Dragone wrote. "We take all threats, online or otherwise, very seriously and fully investigate all matters that are brought to our attention regarding student staff and safety."
The incident came days after police in Saratoga Springs charged a student there with making an online threat. Julius Cucinella, 16, of Saratoga Springs, faces one count of making a terroristic threat, a felony, in that case. Cucinella is accused of making that threat via Snapchat. He was arraigned and released.
Sheriff's officials did not release the names of those involved in the Ballston Spa incident as all are under the age of 16 and will be prosecuted as juveniles.