Update: Threat Targeting Washingtonville High School
The Washingtonville Police Department arrested and charged an 18-year-old student at Washingtonville High School for making credible threats against the school, a press release from Washingtonville Police Department Chief Brian Zaccaro said on Tuesday. Brendan Vaughan was arraigned in the Village of Washingtonville Justice Court, and brought to the Orange County Jail facing one charge of making a terroristic threat (a Class D felony), along with two counts of falsely reporting an incident in the third degree (Class A misdemeanors).
Washingtonville police said that they, along with the FBI New York Joint Terrorism Task Force, New York State Police, and City of Middletown Police Department’s K-9 unit, searched Vaughan’s home at 32 Hamptonburgh Road, in Campbell Hall, on June 3 where investigators discovered evidence in the home, and obtained a statement from the suspect, supporting information that he was in the planning stages of some sort of attack at the school, and posed a threat to public safety. The incident apparently began over the weekend with threats that were made on social media.
“Our department and the FBI have been working very closely with the Washingtonville School District as this investigation developed. We are confident if not for the vigorous work by the investigators involved, and the cooperation of the District, this threat could have resulted in a catastrophe,” said Chief Zaccaro.
Due to the ongoing police and FBI investigation, very little can be stated publicly by police or school district officials about the situation or investigation. However superintendent Roy Reese said a significant increase in the budget for security will be implemented for the upcoming school year. What those security measures are obviously cannot be divulged.
At Tuesday night’s Blooming Grove Town Board Meeting, Supervisor Rob Jeroloman said that he had met previously with school officials twice about safety issues. In talks with school officials during the day on Tuesday it had been decided to postpone their next officially scheduled meeting while they evaluate possible additional proactive measures that could be taken.
Parents have said that what could have been a catastrophic situation was averted by the community of students who spoke out to parents and school officials over the weekend, the adults who reached out to local police, who also alerted State Police and the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force. Parents also praised Washingtonville High School principal Brian Connolly, who immediately sent out a statement to parents. Parents stated they feel communication is important between the district and the school community, not to jeopardize ongoing investigations, but to quell parental fear and anxiety in a school year already emotionally tumultuous for the graduating seniors as well as the entire high school student body. Many parents have been in phone communication with Reese who, they say, has answered their questions to the extent he is able due to the investigation.
Mayor Joseph Bucco told parents on Wednesday morning “While there are no known threats to the Washingtonville Central School District, the Village of Washingtonville Police Department has had an increased presence throughout the schools this year and we will continue to have an increased presence until the conclusion of the school year and graduation ceremony. ”
The increased police presence was noted with appreciations from parents on Wednesday morning at all district schools. The Washingtonville Police Department said that local, state and federal agencies will continue to work with school officials to promote a healthy and safe school environment. Since the criminal investigation is still on-going, police said anyone with additional information is asked to contact the Washingtonville Police Department at 845-496-9123, or the FBI at 212-384-5000.