MOUNT SINAI, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Suffolk County police said a 15-year-old student at Mount Sinai High School has been arrested after they said he threatened to blow up the school.
Police said the ninth grader used a social media app called Yik Yak to make the threats. He allegedly posted that there would be a shooting at the school and then he was “going to blow it up” on Tuesday, police said.
Parents and students read the teen’s posts and notified school officials who called police, authorities said.
After investigating, police said the teen was arrested and charged with making a terrorist threat. The teen is set to appear in family court later Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Suffolk County police school resource officers flooded the school’s campus Tuesday to ease tension.
Gordon Brosdal, Superintendent of Schools for the Mount Sinai Union Free School District, issued a statement saying the “safety and security of our students and staff is of the utmost importance.”
“The district has stayed in constant contact with law enforcement officials throughout the investigation and, as a precaution, police will continue to have a presence at all three schools today,” Brosdal said.
Raymond Wilson said he kept his 15-year-old daughter home as a precaution.
“We told her there’s a bomb threat and we’re going to keep her home to make sure she’s OK,” he told CBS 2’s Weijia Jiang. “Even though they said they caught the person, you never know if anyone else is involved or not.”
The app Yik Yak allows users to post messages anonymously and what messages you can see depends on your GPS location. One of the rules posted on its website is, “do not bully or specifically target other yakkers.”
Justin Patchin, co-director of the Cyberbullying Research Center, said it’s rare for app postings to lead to an arrest, but it can happen.
“Many are under the false impression that what they say on Yik Yak or other anonymous apps won’t come back to haunt them, but I think it’s very clear, and this demonstrates, that if you cross the line there will be accountability,” he told 1010 WINS’ Mona Rivera. “If you threaten classmates and threaten to bring a bomb to school, as is alleged in this case, then law enforcement is going to get involved.”
Some Suffolk County lawmakers said Yik Yak is a dangerous app.
“They should take responsibility,” Suffolk County Legislator Sarah Anker said. “They’re making a profit, but there are issues with bullying and the bomb threat that happened through their application needs to be addressed.”
In a letter to parents posted on the district’s website, Brosdal warned about the “misuse and abuse” of apps like Yik Yak, Snapchat, Kik, Whisper, Tinder and others by middle and high school students.
“The anonymity of these posts allows individuals who may have malicious intent to write comments about others that may be hurtful, harassing and sometimes quite disturbing,” Brosdal said in the letter. “Regrettably, this new advent in technology is quickly becoming part of the social media cyberbullying phenomena.”
He said parents and guardians should talk with their kids about “how to treat others with respect and stress the importance of having a relationship only with those who are respectful in return.”
“Kids out there, don’t do this,” Anker said. “We know where you are. We can find where the source is.”
Yik Yak released a statement Tuesday following the incident at Mount Sinai High School saying, “Yik Yak was created to provide users with a forum for positive, hyper-local interactions. We strongly discourage any misuse, and make a point to monitor traffic and work with law enforcement and other officials when posts are violent in nature. In this instance, we immediately helped Suffolk County police identify the location of the individual to help with the investigation and arrest.”
In May, schools officials in New Jersey decided to ban Yik Yak after someone posted a threat against Ridgewood High School.
Yik Yak has already disabled the app at thousands of schools across the country. When users try to get on the app, it says: “It looks like you are using this at a high school or middle school which is not allowed. Sending and reading messages is disabled.”
In response to the Ridgewood High School incident in May, Yik Yak said “We are aware of the ongoing abuse of Yik Yak by some middle school and high school students and we are dedicated to working with parents and school administrators to ensure this misuse stops.”
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