Man threatened GHS, police say
GLOVERSVILLE – A Speculator man threatened to shoot up Gloversville High School “Columbine style,” city police said.
Trevor Blanchard, 24, of 104 Stanyon Park Drive, Speculator, was charged Wednesday with making terrorist threats, a felony.
Police said Blanchard’s threats were relayed to a female GHS student via Snapchat, a social media platform that allows people to send photos and text through mobile phones.
Authorities said Blanchard and the girl did not know each other.
Police also said Blanchard sent images of intimate adult male parts to the girl and requested she send nude images of herself back to him.
Blanchard was charged with disseminating indecent materials to minors, a felony.
Fulton County District Attorney Louise Sira said the alleged threats by Blanchard and the subsequent investigation that led to his arrest occurred over the last few days.
“It was very serious,” Sira said. “It was a generalized threat toward the populous of Gloversville High School. It’s very serious language to use.”
Gloversville Police Chief Donald VanDeusen said Blanchard’s final alleged threat to the girl was “Goodbye, GHS.”
VanDeusen said the charge relates to terrorism because of the number of potential victims – hundreds of people – if the suspect had carried out his threat.
A police news release said that because of the threat against GHS, Gloversville Enlarged School District officials, including Superintendent Michael Vanyo, met with police officials, including VanDeusen.
“It was determined that the Gloversville Police Department would provide an increased presence at each of the schools in the district until the threat could be thoroughly investigated,” the news release said. “This was done to ensure the safety and welfare of the district’s 800-plus students and faculty members.”
VanDeusen said there was “no evidence” Blanchard was ever at GHS.
VanDeusen said officials are investigating whether other people are involved in the case.
Blanchard was arraigned in City Court Wednesday night before Judge Tracy DiMezza.
The suspect was assigned counsel through the Fulton County Public Defender’s Office and sent to the county jail in lieu of $20,000 cash bail or $40,000 bond bail pending further court action. He will reappear in City Court at 9 a.m. Monday.
Sira said the images Blanchard allegedly sent – from his parents’ home – were of “lewd body parts,” but she’s not sure if they were his.
A Gloversville Enlarged School District news release said the perceived threat was related to an incident reported Tuesday, with the female student reported being harassed online over the weekend.
Police said the student was harassed via Snapchat in a way that potentially threatened her safety and that of others while at school.
Blanchard was arrested with the help of the state police Bureau of Criminal Investigation in Fonda, the state police Computer Crimes Unit and Hamilton County sheriff’s deputies, city police said.
Sira said she was unaware of any personal contact between the girl and the suspect.
VanDeusen said Blanchard allegedly sent the girl a chat message over the weekend and early his week, requesting photos of herself. When she refused, the chief said, Blanchard allegedly sent lewd photos and subsequently made threats toward the girl and her friends, whose names he got through social media.
VanDeusen said Blanchard subsequently sent messages to the girl stating: “I’ll pull a Columbine” and “Goodbye, GHS.”
He said the girl contacted both city police and school officials.
The Columbine High School massacre in Colorado occurred on April 20, 1999. Two senior students murdered 12 students and one teacher.
Sira said the U.S. Department of Homeland Security may be called into this case and Blanchard could face federal charges in Fulton County. She said the suspect also may face charges in Hamilton County.
Hamilton County Sheriff Karl Abrams said his department is conducting its own investigation into Blanchard. He said he received a call from Mayfield state police BCI and Gloversville police to arrest him.
“We knew where the individual was,” Abrams said.
He said the Blanchard name is known in the Speculator and Indian Lake areas.
The sheriff said the suspect’s father is Speculator Department of Public Works Director Roger Blanchard and his uncle is Speculator Volunteer Fire Department Chief Karl Blanchard. Abrams said he believes Trevor Blanchard is a member of that fire department.
A call to Trevor Blanchard’s home was unanswered this morning. Karl Blanchard also had no comment this morning.
A news release from the Gloversville Enlarged School District issued Wednesday said a one-hour lockout was conducted at the high school Wednesday morning in response to the perceived threat. The lockout was lifted after one hour.
Vanyo said a lockout means regular classroom activities were continued, with no one able to leave or enter GHS.
But Vanyo said he’s hoping this alleged crime can be considered a “teachable moment” for the city school community. He said there’s nothing wrong with social media use, but parents and students have to be aware of who they are dealing with and who they befriend.
“When we go through this thing, this is a very good lesson learned for all,” he said.
The district attorney said others helped in the investigation.
“The Internet providers and telephone companies bent over backward to assist,” Sira said.
She declined to name the utility companies involved in the investigation.
VanDeusen stated this morning, “I feel our schools today are as safe today as any other day.”
Gloversville police were also assisted by the Fulton County Sheriff’s Department and Johnstown Police Department.