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Two students charged with threatening schools

Two students from Lancaster and West Seneca East high schools are facing charges of making threats against their schools in separate incidents this week.

A 17-year-old girl was charged by West Seneca police with first-degree false reporting of an incident, a felony, after a bomb threat was sent via e-mail to the school Tuesday.

Lancaster police arrested a 14-year-old boy Wednesday after students heard about threats. The youth, if an adult, would have been charged with menacing and third-degree false reporting of an incident, both misdemeanors, Capt. Tim Murphy said. The boy was petitioned to Family Court, and remanded to a detention center, he said.

Also this week, a dispute between two students at Orchard Park High School sparked unfounded rumors of threats to the school, Orchard Park police said.

Police and school officials say they believe the shootings at Virginia Tech earlier this week, and today's anniversary of the 1999 Columbine High School shootings have created a fertile atmosphere for such threats and rumors.

"While we believe the rumors were spread in heightened response to the recent Virginia Tech tragedy and other school-related tragedies, the high school has taken the rumors seriously and acted accordingly," interim Lancaster Superintendent Edward J. Myszka said in a written statement.

Rumors were rampant at Lancaster High School about possible violence in the cafeteria, Myszka said. Students told teachers and administrators, who told the school resource officer.

Murphy said the investigation started Tuesday when police were made aware of the threats that "somebody wanted to possibly come to school and do damage."

Word spread quickly at the school.

"This is a contemporary society. The students were text messaging," Myszka said.

He said the district took the rumors seriously, but he wanted parents to know the school is safe.

"There was no gun found in a locker in the high school. There was not a bomb threat. A hit list did not exist," he said.

Evening activities continued, and the school added extra security to the building "around the clock," he said. Letters also were sent home to parents informing them of the incident.

The West Seneca School District faced similar problems this week, when an e-mailed bomb threat was received Tuesday, according to Police Chief Edward F. Gehen. West Seneca East was evacuated, and bomb-sniffing dogs from the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority responded to check for explosives. None was found.

Police were able to identify the source of the e-mail.

"The threat was sent by e-mail directly to the school from a 17-year-old female student under the name and e-mail address of another student," Gehen said in a news release.

Detectives were able to identify the address of the computer where the e-mail was generated, and obtained a search warrant for a Clinton Street address. Police arrested the 17-year-old, but declined to identify her.

e-mail: bobrien@buffnews.com

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