A student with a shotgun made a terrorist threat against East High School on social media, according to Rochester police.
Abigail Hernandez, 21, is charged with making a terroristic threat, a felony. She is currently in the Buffalo Federal Detention Center in Batavia because she is an undocumented immigrant, Rochester Deputy Mayor Cedric Alexander said.
Police said, “The initial threat came from an anonymous Facebook account, which our investigators had to track down and determine the author of the Facebook account.” Hernandez allegedly made the threat at 5:08 p.m. Feb. 15, stating, “I’m coming tomorrow morning and I’m going to shoot all of ya bitches.”
The alleged threat was posted to the East High Facebook page. It has since been taken down.
East High School.
Jamie Germano/@jgermano1/Staff Photographer
Hernandez was arrested at home at 8:15 p.m. Feb. 20 after she made a “credible threat” against the school, Alexander said. Police recovered a shotgun in her home. “The threat referenced a shooting and sympathy with the school shooting in Parkland, Florida,” Alexander said.
Hernandez is a student in the Rochester City School District, but she is not a student at East. Authorities declined to say where she is enrolled. Rochester Police Deputy Chief La’Ron Singletary said he was unsure why Hernandez allegedly threatened East High. He said a City School District member alerted police to the threat.
Hernandez was arraigned in Rochester City Court and bail was set at $15,000. Through an automated system called eJusticeNY, ICE determined Hernandez was an undocumented immigrant, Alexander said. Hernandez had “status under the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program,” he added.
According to its website, “eJusticeNY is a browser-based application designed to give users from qualified agencies a single point of access to computerized information within and beyond New York state.”
Singletary didn’t reveal where Hernandez is from or how long she has been in the United States.
Hernandez was transferred to federal custody. Federal authorities have taken over the case, police said.
The Rochester arrest is emblematic of a recent rise of threats on social media to schools across the country.
A Pennsylvania school district has closed schools for a third consecutive day as police continue to investigate threats made against students and staff.
The Central York School District canceled classes Friday following a series of threats on social media. Harrisburg schools and the Dauphin County Technical School also canceled classes on Friday due to similar threats circulating on social media.
Authorities have not provided specifics about the threats in each district, citing the ongoing investigations. Other schools in Pennsylvania have also received various threats via social media but have remained open.
The threats come in the wake of Valentine’s Day shooting at a Florida high school that killed 17 people.
In a letter to parents, East High School Superintendent Shaun Nelms wrote, “Sadly, in wake of the recent Parkland, Florida tragedy, schools across the country have been grappling with social media threats intended to instill fear and anxiety.”
He continued, “We remain very grateful to the Rochester Police Department for their partnership and for keeping us well informed throughout the entire process. Their presence on campus last week and their guidance on how to best keep staff and students safe during this efficient, successful police investigation, reiterates their ongoing support.”
Additional resources were directed toward the school during the investigation, Singletary said. He said precautions were in place. “We’re always evaluating any type of safety situation in regards to the schools,” he said. “We’re always in constant contact with the schools.”
Alexander applauded the quick and decisive actions of the Rochester Police Department. He said the community, police department, and school district worked collaboratively here. Alexander said, “I just want to reiterate if you see something, say something, so we in law enforcement can act. That is exactly what occurred here in this incident.”