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Saddle Brook Detectives Trace YouTube Student Threat, Chief Urges Vigilance

Monitor your pre-teens' online activities, authorities urge.
Monitor your pre-teens' online activities, authorities urge. Photo Credit: YouTube ("How To")

SADDLE BROOK, N.J. -- Investigators on Tuesday narrowed their search for an anonymous poster whose YouTube threat to a pre-teenage Saddle Brook student prompted a K-9 search and additional police presence at a local grade school.

"We're getting closer [to finding the culprit]," Saddle Brook Police Chief Robert Kugler told Daily Voice early Monday evening. "More on that to come."

At the same time, the chief urged parents to be aware of their young children's online practices.

It began when the Franklin Elementary School boy posted a video of himself sitting in his bedroom offering tips on gaming.

Someone who knew his first name responded Sunday night by threatening the youngster in the video's comments thread.

"You better not go to school [tomorrow]," the poster wrote. "I'm going to kill you."

Emojis of cannonball bombs, knives and other weapons were attached to the post, followed by "jk" (as in: "just kidding").

The boy, in turn, told his parents, who called school officials.

They quickly summoned police.

"School officials and law enforcement immediately took steps to ensure the well-being and security of the students and school environment," Kugler told Daily Voice.

Police officers and Bergen County Sheriff's K-9s swept the building Sunday night to be sure. Kugler also assigned additional patrols on Monday.

Meanwhile, Interim Schools Supt. Anthony Riscica alerted parents.

The boy's video was removed, as well.

Classes resumed on Monday without incident, although an undisclosed number of parents apparently kept their children home for the day.

Kugler said he was glad the boy and his parents moved quickly. However, the fact that a child under 13 was posting videos alone in his bedroom disturbed him.

"It's an issue of Internet safety," the chief said.

"In today's society, everybody has a social media presence," Kugler said. "The rules governing YouTube, just like other social media sites like Facebook, prohibit those under 18 from having registered accounts -- although a 13-year-old can sign up with a parent's permission.

"If you have minor children, I'd urge you to please go over the rules with them," the chief told Daily Voice, in a message to parents. "Please be aware of what they're posting and how they're posting it.

"Just as important as any threat, either credible or not -- even more important, in fact  -- is the responsibility of parents and guardians to extensively and constantly monitor their minor children's presence on the Internet.

"Otherwise, our vulnerable children have the potential to be exploited or worse by unknown predators lurking in the shadows of their computer screens," the chief said.

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