NORTH STONINGTON — State police have filed charges against a Westerly teenager who is accused of threatening on Snapchat to commit a shooting at Wheeler High School.
The 16-year-old boy is enrolled in the Chariho Career & Technical Center, according to police sources, and was charged Monday with first-degree threatening and second-degree breach of peace.
The boy was later released into the custody of a parent and the case was forwarded to Juvenile Matters Court for adjudication, according to Connecticut State Police.
"The suspect was shown posing with a handgun, showing pictures of other long guns, and making references to committing a school shooting," Trooper Josue J. Dorelus said in an email message. "Through investigative efforts, a juvenile suspect was identified who resides in Westerly."
According to police records, Wheeler Principal Kristen St. Germain contacted a resident trooper after the school staff received complaints from three students regarding messages that had been sent via Snapchat on Friday. Police sources said the messages indicated that Wheeler "would be next" and contained photos and video of the young man holding a handgun and standing with rifles.
The police said the messages were shared with students at Wheeler High School that the suspect had contacted in an attempt to start a fight. The police said the students were known to the suspect, who was dating a girl enrolled at the school.
The students did not report the messages to the school staff until Monday, according to police sources.
Westerly Police Chief Shawn Lacey said that after the Connecticut troopers identified the student, they reached out for help in finding him. Lacey said officers found the 16-year-old at a Westerly business where he was employed as part of a school work program and he was taken into custody.
"We found a list containing the names of serial killers," Lacey said. The list was discovered during a search before he was arrested. "He indicated that it was part of a school project, but we turned the evidence over" to the Connecticut State Police, Lacey.
Lacey said the suspect's father, who lives in Westerly, legally owns several guns including AR-15 rifles. Police visited the man at his home to discuss the threats, and he showed the officers that the weapons were properly secured in a safe. He also agreed to relocate the safe to a friend's home for the time being, the police said. In addition, Lacey said that the family agreed to have the student undergo a mental health evaluation.
Relocating the firearms was part of a police emergency examination request made by Connecticut State Police.