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Facebook Threat Regarding Drury High Leads to Arrest

By Andy McKeever
iBerkshires Staff
Updated Nov. 10, 2011, at 5:23 p.m. and rewritten throughout; updated with further clarification on the reported "lockdown" at 9:16 a.m., Nov. 11.

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Drury High School officials took extra safety precautions and police arrested a suspect Thursday afternoon after someone posted a threat on social media site Facebook earlier in the morning.

Local officials were mum on details early Thursday but a statement from the superintendent's office said an incident had occurred but there was no evidence that there was any imminent danger to the people in the building. Classes resumed as normal but after-school activities were canceled for a faculty meeting.

According to the district attorney's office, Zach Barbeau, 19, of Adams was arrested in connection with the threat. He was charged with single counts of threatening the use of a deadly weapon and causing the disruption of a school, threat to commit murder, and disruption of a public assembly. He was released pending arraignment in Northern Berkshire District Court on Monday morning.

Barbeau, a former student, allegedly posted the threat on a fictitious account. Investigators with the state police assigned to the district attorney's office and the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force as well as North Adams and Adams police collaborated with Facebook and Verizon Internet Services to track the posting to Barbeau's address.

Investigators say he did not have access to a gun and had no intention of carrying out the threat.

After the threat was posted, school officials say they took additional safety measures while police investigated the claims. The district attorney's office said the school was put on lock down; the superintendent's office said that was not the case.

According to a student, who did not wish to be named, police were not allowing students to drive up to the school after classes began and the K9 officer and dog were in the school.

Students were not allowed to use their cell phones nor were they allowed to be in the hallways without permission; several were told to stay away from the windows. Existing rules, such as the school district's cell phone policy, were being followed, according to the superintendent's office, and reports of a K9 officer inside the school and other police action was incorrect.

The rumor was that it was another student who had posted the threats. And while the regular rules may have been enforced, the atmosphere was charged.

"It was tense ... it was like high maintenance," said the student.

Several parents posted on Facebook that they went to the high school and removed their children. According to the superintendent's office, 20 students out the 554 enrolled at Drury were dismissed early.
     
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