Saranac Lake High Schooler arrested after alleged threats of violence (2nd update)

SARANAC LAKE — Village police arrested a Saranac Lake High School student on Tuesday after he got angry and allegedly made repeated threats of violence at the school, possibly with a gun.

The 17-year-old male from Vermontville was not identified and is eligible for youthful offender status, according to police.

The incident began when he and another student bumped into each other between class periods Tuesday afternoon in a school hallway, police Chief Charles Potthast said Wednesday. The chief wasn’t sure whether the bump was accidental or intentional.

“Somehow a student got bumped, and a staff member said something, and it just escalated,” Potthast said. “He was in a very agitated, angry state at that particular time.”

Other staff tried to intervene in the altercation between the student and the staff member, including administration and counseling staff, according to Potthast.

“The things he was saying caused alarm to the teachers and the staff,” Potthast added. “He was making allegations that he would cause violence at the school, possibly with a firearm.”

The student did not direct the threats at any particular person or group, according to Potthast and Diane Fox, superintendent of the Saranac Lake Central School District.

Other students were in the hallway at the time, Fox said.

Neither Fox nor Potthast would identify the staff members who were involved.

“He just became more angry every time he talked to a staff person and kept reiterating the same thing, so they thought it was time to call police,” Potthast said.

Village police, with assistance from the Clinton County Sheriff’s Office, interviewed the student Tuesday night in Clinton County, where he was staying at a relative’s home. Then around 11:30 p.m. they charged him with making a terroristic threat, a class D felony. He was processed at the police station, arraigned in Harrietstown town court and and remanded to the Franklin County Jail in Malone in lieu of $15,000 bail or $30,000 bond. Bail has since been posted, and the boy was released from jail, Potthast said.

Fox said the threats “had the potential to cause serious unintended consequences.”

“Both school and law enforcement are continuing to monitor the situation to ensure a safe learning environment,” she said in a robocall to district parents. She also thanked village police for “handling the situation with utmost professionalism.”

“We take any utterances like that seriously,” Potthast said. He added, however, “It does not appear (the arrested student) took any active measures to further any plan in particular.”

“I think it was a big meltdown,” the chief said. “He made these utterances when he was in an angry state. There’s no indication that he was going to follow through with this plan.”