Three Rochester NY middle schoolers charged in foiled school attack

Three Rochester NY middle schoolers charged in foiled school attack
Copyright 2019 CNN
Officials say the students sent "threatening messages" on a gaming app and social media platforms.

Three middle schoolers were charged in connection with a “potential assault” on their school in the Greater Rochester area Thursday, authorities say.

The students were removed from Albion Middle School, northwest of Rochester, pending an investigation into “inappropriate and threatening messages” disseminated on a gaming app and social media platforms, according to the Albion Central School District superintendent.

The messages were originally shared on an online gaming app, Discord, and then spread on other social media platforms, Superintendent Michael Bonnewell said in a letter to the community Wednesday.

The school district formed a threat assessment team including local authorities and the FBI to investigate the threat, the letter says. The children are accused of conspiracy in the second-degree.

Orleans County District Attorney Joseph V. Cardone called the messages “very credible threats,” and commended the FBI’s role in assisting in the investigation. Cardone, however, tells CNN he does not expect charges against the minor-age students to rise to a federal level.

In a statement issued on Friday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo credited school officials and local law enforcement officers for their role in foiling the plot which “was determined to be credible and the agencies worked quickly to investigate and identify the suspects.”

“And I want to be crystal clear: any person posing a threat to our schools will face the harshest possible penalty under the law — whether or not they intend to actually execute that threat,” Cuomo said in the statement.”

Discord, the online gaming app, is a voice and text chat app designed specifically for gamers, according to its app description.

In a statement to CNN, Director of Trust and Safety for Discord Sean Li said, “We’re committed to ensuring that Discord is a positive and safe place for all our users. We have a zero tolerance approach to harassment and illegal activity on our platform and take immediate action when we become aware of it.”