STUDENTS AND RESIDENTS SAW SOMETHING AND THEY SAID SOMETHING
Threat to Washingtonville High School Thwarted , School Security Increased
UPDATE 6/7/2018 12 Noon: A large number of official police and FBI vehicles were seen by neighbors arriving at the Vaughan home in Campbell Hall on the morning of June 7, apparently issuing a 2nd Search Warrant. No additional details are available about at this time.
Washingtonville High School Student Arrested in Gun and Bomb Threat
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, June 5. Brendan Vaughan was arraigned in the Village of Washingtonville 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). He was out on a $75,000 bond the next day. 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 in Campbell Hall on June 3 where investigators discovered evidence, and obtained a statement from the suspect, supporting information that he was in the planning stages of an attack at the school, and posed a threat to public safety. “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.
Parents have said that what could have been a catastrophic situation has been averted by the community of students who, seeing Vaughan’s Snapchat posts saying “What would you do if someone shot up the school tomorrow?” and “I need a gun,” spoke out to parents and school officials over the weekend, the adults who reached out to local police, and the local police who alerted State Police and the FBI. 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 ongoing extremely sensitive and serious investigation.
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 an increase in the budget for security will be implemented for the upcoming school year. What those security measures are obviously cannot be divulged.
“The safety and well-being of our students and staff is always our first priority at our schools,” a statement emailed to district parents from him on Wednesday said. The goal of the Washingtonville Central School District is whenever possible, prevent, and when necessary, respond effectively to any critical incident we may face. The District continues to partner with the Washingtonville Police Department, Blooming Grove Police Department, New Windsor Police Department, New York State Police, as well as other local, state and federal agencies. These partnerships, in addition to our safety procedures, have enabled us to be proactive in maintaining open lines of communication between students, staff, and parents to identify potential warning signs of violence or students in crisis. Our schools engage in a wide range of prevention programs, and numerous mental health resources and personnel are available throughout the district. The district strives to create a connection with each of our students to identify any child in need. Any time a potential threat is identified the district promptly collaborates with our law enforcement to ensure the continuing safety of all students and staff. This interaction has allowed the District to take proactive measures before issues have
taken place.” He said enhanced security will be in place throughout the end of the school year and at graduation ceremonies. “Additionally,” the email stated, “we have had security audits by Orange County Sheriff Department, Washingtonville Police Department, Blooming Grove Police Department, and private security consultants. We continue to improve and upgrade our security technology and surveillance systems. We cannot share details or measures that have been put in place. Our security consultants have cautioned us not to give out specific security plans.”
Police said that local, state and federal agencies will continue to work with school officials to promote a safe school environment, and anyone with additional information is asked to contact the Washingtonville Police Department at 845-496-9123, or the FBI at 212-384-5000.