Three North Tonawanda High School students were charged with making terroristic threats after they were overheard discussing a scenario in which they would shoot students and faculty at the school.
North Tonawanda police released a statement Thursday announcing that the three boys – who are 16, 15 and 14 years old – were arrested March 1. The 16-year-old was charged as an adult and arraigned March 2, after an overnight stay in the North Tonawanda City Jail. After his arraignment, the 16-year-old was released to his parents for pretrial services with the Niagara County Probation Department.
The younger defendants were petitioned to Niagara County Probation for intake services because of their age, police said.
North Tonawanda police said that on Feb. 28 they received a report of three high school students who were making threats about shooting students and faculty at North Tonawanda High School.
The conversation took place aboard a school bus at the end of the day as students were riding home, police said. Another student overheard the conversation and the parents of the student notified police.
The charges against the three boys stemmed from a two-day investigation by police in which all three boys admitted making statements about how they would go about carrying out an attack on the school. All three boys reportedly incorporated themselves into the scenario that they wove and discussed the specific roles they would play in such attack. It included having one boy pull a fire alarm, exit the school building with other students, at which time he would begin shooting at them. The other two boys, meanwhile, would station themselves at different ends of the school and start shooting at students and staff as they exited the building, police said.
All three boys told police that they had no actual intention of carrying out their plan, insisting that it was discussed only as a "what if" scenario. However, police said, the statute defining at terroristic threat also states that it is not a defense for the individual making such a threat to have no the intent or capability of committing the crime.
The North Tonawanda Police Department has investigated about 10 calls of threats against North Tonawanda schools since the Feb. 14 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.