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Three Southern Tier schools report 'copycat' threats of violence Friday

Three students in the Southern Tier were in police custody Friday after making apparent "copycat" threats of violence. At least two of the students said they would bring guns to schools, according to the governor's office.

Schools in the Randolph Academy Union Free School District in Cattaraugus County and the Chautauqua Lake School District and the Ashville BOCES program in Chautauqua County were briefly closed Friday morning but troopers responded and the matters "are under control," State Police and the office of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said.

"While this morning's incidents have been resolved, the school system and local police departments remain on full alert. Out of an abundance of caution, I am ordering the State Police to increase its patrols around schools statewide," Cuomo said in a written statement.

Following the governor's announcement, the State Police reported a 17-year-old student at Chautauqua Lake and a 15-year-old student from Ashville BOCES were taken into custody Friday morning under the state's mental hygiene law.

Troopers responded to Chautauqua Lake at 9:05 a.m. "for a threat of violence reported to school staff." The school was then placed into lockout. "The investigation revealed that a possible threat of violence could exist at Ashville BOCES," which was also placed into lockout, police said.

Both students were transported to hospitals for evaluation, police said.

Later Friday, State Police said a threat of violence against Randolph Academy led troopers to a 16-year-old student believed to be involved in the incident. Troopers questioned him at their Machias barracks and took him into custody under the same state law before moving him to a hospital for evaluation.

The incidents come two days after 17 students and adults were fatally shot at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.

Districts in Western New York and across the country have since dealt with rumors of violence and unsubstantiated threats, a phenomenon which experts said is not unusual in the wake of a high-profile school shooting.

Familiar formula repeats itself as threats in WNY follow Florida school shooting

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