Olean police make arrest in social media threats against Olean High School


OLEAN, N.Y. (WIVB) — UPDATE: Olean police say they have made an arrest in relation to threats made against Olean High School students through social media last Thursday and yesterday.

A 15-year-old boy was charged at 3:30 p.m. Friday with two felony counts of making a terroristic threat.

The juvenile will be arraigned in family court, according to officials.

ORIGINAL: Police in Olean are looking to find whoever created videos resembling hit lists that appear to threaten youths there. It shows their pictures, with their name with the phrase “RIP” at the top of the photo.

“When things like this happen, we don’t take this lightly. You can’t, not in this day in age because it can and will happen as we’ve seen already,” said Robert Barnes. He and his wife kept their son Devonte Connor, a senior at Olean High School, home for the day because they didn’t feel safe in sending him.

“My wife brought it to my attention last night and said I needed to look at something that was on Facebook, so I did. Right then and there, alarm bells ring,” Barnes said.

Devonte is friends with many of the young people shown in two threatening videos circulating social media. News 4 is choosing not to show the videos, but each one has pictures of about 10 young people, with the letters RIP above their heads. Birth years are followed by 2019.

“The video, when you watch it, appears to allude to the fact that these people that were pictured are going to be harmed or murdered,” said Chief Jeffrey Rowley, City of Olean Police Department.

Rowley says he was first notified of them Thursday night. The FBI has been called in to help investigate. They’re now trying to get ahold of Facebook to help track whoever created these down.

“These companies are careful with disseminating information from their customers and so you have to go through this procedure to get this information,” Rowley said.

The school superintendent wouldn’t answer any questions or go on camera, but did provide a written statement which was then posted to social media.

The Olean City School District is aware that there has been a threat posted on social media. The district takes all threats seriously and the authorities are aware and conducting an investigation.

The safety of our students and employees is our top priority and we are dedicated to ensure they are safe.

The Olean City School District

Rowley says one extra patrol until was at each of the schools today. There was also an armed security officer in every school, which is normal practice.

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