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12-year-old charged with felony following alleged school threat, more arrests could come

"That's something that we take very seriously"
Posted at 6:28 AM, Mar 16, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-16 17:33:34-04

YOUNGSTOWN, N.Y. (WKBW) — A 12-year-old is facing a felony charge, and police say another arrest is pending after the student allegedly made threats against Lewiston Porter Middle School.

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Outside Lewiston Police Department.

Lewiston Police say on the morning of March 14, the student used Snapchat to threaten the school.

"Obviously that's something that we take very seriously," remarked Police Chief Frank Previte, Lewiston Police Department.

Chief Previte tells 7 News over the weekend they learned of a violent, social media threat on Snapchat from a 7th grader against the Lewiston-Porter Middle School.

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Police Chief Frank Previte, Lewiston Police Department.

"An AR-15 style weapon and bringing it to the school on Tuesday and some sort of incident," described Chief Previte.

That led them to the home of a 13-year-old student, identified only as James. Police showed up at his home on Monday only to learn a fake Snapchat account was created using his identity.

His mother, Vanessa Crogan, 7th-grade son has been bullied for months with racial slurs.

Vanessa Crogan, mother of 7th grader, who was victim of fake Snapchat account.

"My next notification that this bullying was still happening was Monday morning when the police officers showed up to my house with this fake Snapchat with my son's name on it," Crogan explained.

After police realized her son was the victim of a fake social media account, the police chief says investigators were able to track devices leading to the arrest of one student and tracking a second who is out of the country and is expected to be arrested.

"How soon do you expect the other to be charged?" Buckley asked. "The other is out of the country and will be charged when they return," replied Chief Previte.

Outside Lewiston-Porter Middle School.

Crogan posted on Facebook post after the arrest saying these same students involved in creating a fake Snapchat account of her son have been using racial slurs, including the "N" word against her son since his birthday party in December.

"It's very heartbreaking. It's very depressing and it's a very sad situation," Crogan responded.

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Partial Facebook post from Vanessa Crogan.

Crogan says she notified the school and met with school leaders a while back, but doesn't believe it was truly addressed.

"And it's still the same child that is the ring leader of this entire operation," said Crogan.

But Lewiston-Porter Schools Superintendent Paul Casseri tells me the district is very aware of the racial remarks.

"That sort of behavior — those words are in no way shape or form representative of what our school and school district is all about," explained Casseri. "We want none of our students to experience those kinds of feelings and those kinds of words."

Lewiston-Porter Schools Superintendent Paul Casseri.

The superintendent tells me there are disciplinary and restorative consequences against the students involved.

"I can say with 100% a surety, we are aware of it," noted Casseri. "So it is very disturbing for us when these come to light."

Police investigated, and so far they have charged one student with making a terroristic threat, which is a class D felony, as well as third-degree menacing, second-degree aggravated harassment, and fifth-degree conspiracy.

The police department is working in conjunction with the school district and says more arrests may be made in connection to this threat.

Lewiston Police say they are committed to making sure the school is a safe place for students and staff.

Outside Lewiston Police Department.

The police chief says despite the racial slurs involved in the fake account, hate crime charges can not be considered.

"As disgusting as some of those words are, and the names, it's still covered under Freedom of Speech," commented Chief Previte.

The Lewiston Porter superintendent tells me ironically they will be holding a community town hall meeting next month to discuss racial equality. Casseri says all will be welcome to attend.

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Lewiston-Porter Middle School.

A little more than 90% of the study body in the school district is white.

Here is a breakdown of the student population in the Lewiston-Porter Central School District:

  • 90.7% White
  • 1.3% Black
  • 2% Asian or Asian/Pacific Islander
  • 2.6% Hispanic/Latino
  • 0.4% American Indian or Alaska Native
  • 0% Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander
  • 3.1% Two or more races