School shooting threat was a doctored video from a Boy Scouts event at an Army installation

Source: Troop 26 Facebook

Catie O’Toole

Watertown, N.Y. — The Boy Scouts of America is defending a 15-year-old Scout it says was the victim of a Snapchat copycat who doctored his video from a scouting event at Fort Drum to make others think he was threatening a school.

The scout posted an eight-second video on his private Snapchat account after his mother recorded him “holding a rifle swung over his shoulder. He was holding it up, not pointing it at anybody, not threatening anyone in anyway” at the Scouts BSA Mountain Challenge event Saturday, said Scott Armstrong, director of national media relations for the BSA.

Sometime after the boy posted that video, a “doctored” version — one that warned kids not to go to school on Monday and showed the scout with the rifle — popped up on Snapchat, Armstrong said.

After the video with the threatening caption began to circulate, multiple people alerted authorities. Watertown police on Sunday released a statement saying they were investigating a “captioned video of a juvenile male with a rifle” that “referenced Case Middle School in Watertown.”

Police confirmed the video originated from the scouting event Saturday at Fort Drum, “a gathering meant to expose non-military children to our local military installation and build community relations between Fort Drum and our community,” Watertown Detective Sgt. Joseph A. Giaquinto said in a news release.

Watertown police called the state police, the FBI and Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office to help investigate.

Armstrong, a Syracuse native who now lives in Pennsylvania, said he saw the original video and has been in contact with Troop 26 leaders and military personnel who were with the scout in the video on Saturday.

“There was no caption, no threat, no commentary in the original video,” he said. The only audio was the Troop 26 Scoutmaster, who’s also a captain with the 10th Mountain Division, heard in the background, he said.

In addition to the boy’s mom, military personnel and scout leaders, who are active duty members of the military, witnessed the scout holding an inoperable M4 rifle, Armstrong said. The U.S. Army provided the rifle, as well as an attack helicopter and military vehicles at the event this weekend, he said.

The scout seen in the video was “proudly representing the Scouts and he was proud of the Army, as his dad is deployed overseas,” Armstrong said. He posted the video to his private Snapchat account, which only 44 friends could see, Armstrong said.

“One of those friends screenshot his video and super-imposed (the threatening caption) and posted the doctored version on Snapchat,” Armstrong said.

The scout seen in the video, a freshman at Watertown High School, has been suspended from school while the investigation continues. His mother is planning to meet with the principal Monday morning, Armstrong said.

“The scout is obviously very concerned about his future with college applications and employment under these circumstances,” Armstrong said.

Meanwhile, Watertown police say “extra security measures will be taken in response to these postings.”

Police ask anyone with information about the video or threats to call them at (315) 782-2233.

“We take all such postings seriously and investigate them fully to help make the community we serve safer,” Giaquinto said.

Armstrong also said the BSA also takes “any potential threats seriously and is cooperating with law enforcement.”

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