Social media gun threat investigated

Photo by Soumil Kumar/Pexels

WATERTOWN — A 14-year-old boy has been arrested after he allegedly doctored the now-viral video initially perceived as a threat to Case Middle School.

The teenager was charged with third-degree falsely reporting an incident, a misdemeanor, and will appear in Jefferson County Family Court, city police Detective Sgt. Joseph A. Giaquinto confirmed.

City police say there is no threat to the school or community.

The teen arrested was not the student in the video, is not associated with the Boy Scouts, and was not at the Scout Mountain Challenge event where the youth in the video was filmed holding a gun.

Scott Armstrong, director of national media relations for the Boy Scouts of America, said the Scout Mountain Challenge, which has taken place on Fort Drum for nine years and hosted at the Scout Hut on post, includes a display of firearms with the firing pins removed with supervision of active-duty military personnel.

Mr. Armstrong said the scout in the video posted the footage to Snapchat with no caption or threat. He also says there was no message or caption, and the only audio heard in the original video is that of the scout master.

The scout posted the video to his friends list, which would limit the people that could see the video to his 44 friends on Snapchat.

“Unfortunately, one of his social media friends appears to have captured that video and posted what can only be perceived as some type of threat,” he said. He went on to say that the actions taken by the other Snapchat user was a “foolish youthful activity.”

Mr. Armstrong said the scout in the video will not be punished by Boy Scouts of America for posting the video.

“Nothing was done that was out of bounds, or wrong as far as the original post went,” he said.

There is no anticipated change in cellphone policy with the Boy Scouts.

“Obviously you’ve got to take threats very seriously these days, and so I’m glad to see the investigation proceed,” he said. “Every one of these is a learning point and hopefully these kids learned a lesson and tighten up a little bit on their personal practice.”

Fort Drum said officials on post say they “greatly regret” any part they may have “inadvertently played.”

“The use of military weapons in static displays is authorized under very strict guidance, including the removal of firing pins, and the prohibition of any type of ammunition anywhere at the event,” Julie Halpin, director of Fort Drum public affairs, said in a prepared statement. “Our intent with military weapons displays is to teach safe, responsible handling of weapons and we are reviewing the planning and execution of the display at the Boy Scouts event this past weekend to determine if there are ways that we could have better met that intent. We greatly regret any part we may have inadvertently played in creating uncertainty and concern for the safety of our local schools.”

The Boy Scouts have a designated area on Fort Drum and they requested static displays for the annual event, which involves Fort Drum showing equipment to non-military people.

There will not be any changes to the Boy Scouts’ use of space on Fort Drum.

Watertown City School District Superintendent Patricia B. LaBarr could not be reached for comment Monday.

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(1) comment


“Watertown City School District Superintendent Patricia B. LaBarr could not be reached for comment Monday.” Of course not.

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