The latest on school threats in CNY

A number of school threats across Central New York have shaken districts, families, students and the public. Most of these happening after the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, where 17 people lost their lives to gun violence.

Where do some of our local cases stand in the court system? We're here to tell you.

We begin in Onondaga County, where Syracuse Police say a student at the Syracuse Academy of Science sent a Snapchat video to several students of the school.

Court documents revealed that, "the video showed the defendant standing on a wood deck holding a rifle and shooting a beverage can which explodes upon being struck. In the audio of the video snap the defendant clearly states. 'the skills of a school shooter'. " Police say no specific school was mentioned in the video.

The student had recently been suspended from the school and, "had been labeled with the moniker of 'school shooter'" according to the felony complaint, and as a result, students who received the Snapchat became concerned for their safety and alerted school administrators.

Jacob V. Vazquez, 16, was charged on Feb. 27 with making a terroristic threat. His case is still pending.

"What do you do with a kid who's troubled? " said Onondaga County District Attorney Bill Fitzpatrick. "How do you distinguish between a kid who meant it and a kid who was just blowing off steam? "

Those questions are for prosecutors to decide. For now, prosecutors are left to charge a felony, Statute 490.20, a charge Fitzpatrick believes could be tweaked to fit cases like this one and many more.

"The state legislature now has to enact legislation that deal with specifically school threats so we don't have the difficulty here that they had with other appellate court decision," added Fitzpatrick.

In Cayuga County, police investigated a number of threats in the Port Byron School District.

On Feb. 16, New York State Police charged a 12-year-old boy who was a student at Port Byron with making a terroristic threat.

State Police said he made claims of harming students at the school on social media and during school hours.

"You have to look at all the different things that they're saying and sending out on social media and to friends, and texts and emails and notes," said Cayuga County District Attorney Jon Budelmann. "Put them all together and say, 'do we have a true threat?' Is there any identifiable threat to a specific individual or group of individuals that we can then act on? ' "

Almost a month later on March 7, a 13-year-old boy was arrested for almost the same thing. In each case, authorities don't believe the threats would be carried out and nobody was in danger.

Both cases are in family court where records are sealed.

In the Cato-Meridian School District, a 16-year-old boy was charged as an adult after social media posts revealed threats to the school and specific students. He was also charged with making a terroristic threat.

"He's got no prior history so he's being treated as what we call a youthful offender," said Budelmann. "That case is still pending and we're hoping to come to a resolution of that."

Both prosecutors share the same beliefs regarding new laws, specifically for school threats, but until then, how these cases are handled is up to them.

"It has to be given the seriousness so we can have a hammer to keep control on him or her," said Fitzpatrick. "To a point where I can say to the parents of the school or citizens of Onondaga County, we think this problem has been addressed. It's not time for this kid to re-enter society."

"Take another look at the statute creating something that's more specifically addressed at what we're seeing in the schools will be helpful," said Budelmann.

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