OLEAN — A 15-year-old boy was arraigned Monday in Cattaraugus County Family Court in connection with alleged terroristic threats made against Olean High School students.
The youth, who was not identified due to his age, is not a student at Olean High School, according to Olean City School District Superintendent Rick Moore.
Because of the confidential nature of Family Court and the continuing investigation, Moore declined to say whether the youth had previously been a student in the city school district.
The teen was arrested Friday afternoon at the Olean Police Station, where he had been brought by his father, an Olean resident.
His alleged “kill list” of 10 Olean High boys — most of them black or of mixed race — promoted statements on social media on Friday that the incident was racially motivated.
Olean Police Juvenile Officer Larry Hlasnick said the juvenile, who is African American, is currently in the custody of the Cattaraugus County Child and Family Services.
Hlasnick would not say where the youth was living when he allegedly made two seemingly threatening videos. He discounted a racial motive because most of the victims were either black or of mixed race.
A social media posting of a “kill video,” set to music, of Olean teens with photos taken from the internet, their birth date and 2019 went viral on Thursday afternoon. Olean Police soon learned of the video and began an investigation that ended in the arrest of the juvenile less than 24 hours later.
Hlasnick was not sure whether the youth had attended Olean City Schools in the past.
The juvenile was also accused of posting a “rape video” featuring images of Olean High School girls more than a week before he is accused of posting the so-called “kill video” of Olean boys, Hlasnick said.
“We were working on that all along,” the juvenile officer said. It “morphed” into the investigation of the “kill video.”
Teenagers sometimes do silly things to get attention without thinking that it’s going to hurt anyone, Hlasnick said. Teens make a mistake when they don’t think about the gravity of the situation, he added.
“Kids are not dumb,” the juvenile officer said. “They see what’s getting the most attention in the news. With social media it’s spread is viral.”
Hlasnick said even if the youth just wanted attention and didn’t intend any harm to anyone, it made a lot of people uncomfortable and put a scare into a number of parents.
In a voicemail to the Olean Times Herald, one parent criticized speculation in the newspaper Saturday that the teens included in the “kill video” may have once bullied the person who created the video, perhaps explaining the incident.
“That’s ridiculous,” the parent said.
“My son didn’t even know the boy. He had nothing to do — no friendships or connections — with the other boys on the list,” the parent said.
“There is enough vigilante stuff out there,” the parent continued. “These boys were on a list to be killed, targeted by a boy who has a problem. Now I have to worry about parents and people out there who say they are bullies and deserve it. You are further victimizing the kids who were victims.”