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Thwarting tragedy: Quick act by Lowville Academy student helped stop violence

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The thought of mass violence occurring at a local school is horrific for any parent to contemplate.

Law enforcement authorities and Lowville Central School District officials recently confronted this prospect at Lowville Academy. Village police officers responded to a 911 call June 13 at the school regarding a threat of a shooting.

A 16-year-old male was taken into custody along with three individuals he named as accomplices after the suspect reportedly said he planned to shoot and kill students and police officers at the school. The young man was brought to Samaritan Medical Center, Watertown, after being questioned by Lowville police; he was then taken to another medical facility, which has not been identified, for continued observation. The other three were questioned by police and released.

The 16-year-old’s plot also involved shooting certain individuals at Walmart Supercenter, 7155 E. State St., Lowville Police Chief Eric F. Fredenburg said. He added that members of the public were not in danger as the young man said he had specific people in mind.

Periodic incidents of mass violence in public places have become a frightening reality. An ongoing debate over how to reduce such tragedies has been held with no definitive solutions offered.

Of course, talk of stricter gun control measures and expanding mental health services has occupied much of the discussion. There is a lot to hash out with both options.

One thing we can do to address the problem is remain alert to disturbing talk of pending violence. This is exactly what happened at Lowville Academy, and a catastrophe was likely thwarted due to the level-headed thinking of the student who called police after hearing the threat being made.

It could take years before effective public policies are devised to deal with the problem of mass violence. So in the interim, it’s up to each of us to report suspicious behavior before it turns into another tragic news story.

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