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No evidence behind gun threats; bomb threat a hoax


The Carthage Central, Watertown City and South Jefferson Central school districts all investigated rumors or letters indicating that violent actions were to take place today.

All three were found to be untrue.

In St. Lawrence County, the Gouverneur Central and Massena Central school districts are battling rumors that have caused parents to keep children home.

On Thursday, a Carthage Central High School employee found a bomb threat, which turned out to be a hoax, scrawled on a note in a bathroom.

“The New York State Police advised the district to conduct a lock down when they arrived for the search,” Superintendent Peter J. Turner said in a news release. “A confession was made before the police could respond with a search dog.”

The release said a specific time and location was given on the note. The student who confessed has been arrested and suspended from school and will have a disciplinary hearing at a later date.

“The students were never in any danger,” Mr. Turner said in the release.

He could not be reached for further comment.

Carthage High School Principal Joseph S. Sedita was one of the people who interviewed the student who wrote the note.

“Through the use of security cameras and eyewitnesses, we were able to pinpoint who was in that place at that time,” Mr. Sedita said. “‘I don’t know why I did it’ was the response.”

Mr. Sedita said he was impressed by the diligence and quick action of his staff during the situation.

“The level of professionalism is second to none,” he said. “This is the most professional staff I have ever worked with.”


While Carthage High School was apprehending the student who made the bomb threat, the Watertown City and South Jefferson Central school districts investigated rumors that a gun was going to be brought to school.

There is no evidence to support rumors of gun violence today at Case Middle School or Watertown High School, according to a news release from the Watertown City School District.

The district received phone calls from several parents regarding a rumor that someone was planning to bring a gun to school.

The district and the school resource officer conducted an investigation Thursday.

“Nevertheless, increased security measures will be implemented in all of our school buildings with assistance from the Watertown City Police,” according to a news release. “We have been advised that our specific plans and strategies should not be shared with the general public in order that safety measures are not compromised.”

Superintendent Terry N. Fralick could not be reached for additional comment.

At South Jefferson, state police responded early Thursday to concerns of a suspicious vehicle near the Mannsville-Manor Elementary School, 423 N. Main St., Mannsville, but did not find any threat.

A second incident, in which a high school student expressed general concerns about safety, also was quickly addressed and no threat was found.

As a result of the safety concerns, the district locked its doors for the rest of the day Thursday. The move parallels the actions of several other districts in the region. The district also is calling for extra police presence through the rest of the school day today.

“We’re erring on the side of caution,” said Superintendent Jamie A. Moesel.

She added that there were no specific threats to students Thursday or today and that many of the reported concerns were coming from Facebook and other Internet outlets.

“What we’re finding is the rumors are coming off of different rumors,” Mrs. Moesel said.

In a notice about school security on the district website, Mrs. Moesel said those with questions or concerns can call the district office at 583-6104. The notice can be found at


The Massena Central School District fielded several calls on Thursday from parents who were concerned about possible threats in the district.

They were only rumors, according to Superintendent Roger B. Clough II. “We don’t have any substantiated, concrete evidence of anything,” he said.

If district officials receive any information, such as names or places, “we’re going to look at it,” Mr. Clough said.

Mr. Clough is using avenues such as letters, emails, the district’s website and the media to let parents and the community know that there’s no truth to the rumors.

“I’ve had parents call. I tell them to rest assured we’re doing everything possible,” Mr. Clough said. “I made a statement, I did emails. I just wanted to make sure that parents knew that their children are safe. I don’t want the community of Massena to become paralyzed with fear and rumors.”

In his letter on the district’s website, Mr. Clough asked that people not repeat rumors.

“A simple conversation about a student having a bad day can suddenly become a school-wide rumor that someone is planning school violence. Instead, bring that rumor directly to the school principal,” he wrote.

The Gouverneur Central School District also is trying to calm the fears of parents worried about rumors that their children are in danger.

The district has distributed a letter to parents and the community addressing the Dec. 14 tragedy in Connecticut and talk that some kind of incident would take place at Gouverneur today.

“Rumors and or concerns brought to our attention by students, parents or community members, especially regarding student safety issues, are taken very seriously and therefore, are investigated by district administration and typically are shared with local law enforcement,” Superintendent Lauren F. French wrote in the letter that is posted on the district’s website.

“From our intensive investigation, we have found no credible validation to any rumors that have been reported. Rumors of this nature are never taken lightly or ignored.”

The district did not have a lockdown, as rumors have circulated, Mrs. French said.

“We have locked doors like we always do,” she said. “We’re vigilant. We don’t disregard any phone call.”

Times staff and Johnson Newspapers writers Martha Ellen and Bob Beckstead contributed to this report.

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