While Massachusetts schools have been struggling with ways in which to comply with the over-arching and extremely broad anti-bullying law, a couple of students at Brookline High School have apparently been doing their own planning. According to officials, that planning would include a mass homicide.
The students allegedly posted on Facebook plans to meet after school and commit the deed according to the prosecution. They indicated online that they could use gallons of gasoline and use thousands of syringes full of bear tranquilizers. When one of the lads suggested shooting some guns at proposed victims, the other genius responded that he was “way ahead of you,”.
Brookline police searched the homes of both students and seized their computers, but have not found any weapons, according to police..
The pair were arrested on Wednesday after one of their fathers became aware of the cyber-conversation and, apparently, felt that it would be better that his son end up in trouble…than dead or culpable for mass murder.
In court, one of the defense attorneys argued that the comments were only a joke.
The two students have each pleaded not guilty to charges of threatening to commit a crime and conspiracy to commit a crime. Brookline District Court Judge Patricia Curtin had a funny retort to the show of “humor”.
She ordered each of them held on $10,000 bail, barred them from using any computers, and told them to stay away from all Brookline schools.
From The Trenches:
As an experienced Boston – based criminal defense attorney for many years, I have watched as the tolerance for such “jokes” has fallen from slim to none.
These are the days after Columbine. Since then, school shootings have seemed to be an epidemic. Just a few weeks ago, a school board in Florida were threatened by a gunman (caught on video, no less) until he started shooting and then dying himself.
As I have stated in the past, I feel our reaction to recent stories of bullying is unwise. The reaction to things like potential threats to commit mass murder is taken seriously and it should be. Deadly seriously.
Too many kids have ended up dead when we didn’t.
There may be some legal hurdles for the “threats count” that the prosecution to climb. Normally, such cases involve threats made by one person to another against that other. However, the conspiracy count could stick.
“But, Sam, what about the First Amendment right to free speech?”
While I think we have eroded that particular right greatly, I would say it would not apply. You never could yell “Fire!” in a crowded room. It is very arguable that planning mass murder for all to see is comparable.
I have handled a number of these types of cases and can tell you that even suspected more veiled threats passed back and forth between friends which are more clearly a “joke” are prosecuted today.
The problem is that many of us do not understand how times have changed in this regard. That makes it difficult to warn our kids who may not be thinking in these terms. Kids have imagination and are just learning how to use it. They do not understand the legal implications and they cannot learn about it if the adults do not tell them.
Folks, I think we have some learning to do out there.
In the meantime, if you or your child are already caught in the sites of the criminal justice system, you should engage the services of a defense attorney who is experienced in this area immediately. It could mean the difference between losing custody of your child, having that child receive a juvenile or criminal record that will haunt him for years…or even more tragic results.
If you would like to discuss such a matter with me, please feel free to call me to arrange a free initial consultation at 617-492-3000.
In the meantime, have a great, safe and law-abiding weekend!
To view the original story in which parts of this blog were based, please go to : http://mobile.boston.com/art/30/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2011/01/07/brookline_high_school_students_held_in_alleged__threats/