Bill takes aim at threats of mass violence against LI schools
A new bill aims to crack down on threats of mass shootings and violence targeting schools and communities by closing a loophole in state law.
Nassau District Attorney Madeline Singas says current state laws aren't adequate to charge or fully prosecute those who make threats. She points to a 2015 case in Oyster Bay where school custodian Brian Hulsen was arrested after he allegedly said to a teacher, "I am going to come in here and Columbine this..."
Hulsen was charged, but the case against him was later dismissed. The appellate court said the alleged threat did not have merit under current law.
Singas and state Sen. Todd Kaminsky have drafted new legislation creating the stronger charge of "making a threat of mass harm."
Singas says the stronger charge of making a threat of mass harm could carry up to a four-year prison sentence. If the bill is passed by both houses of state Legislature and is signed by the governor, Singas says it would go into effect immediately.
But the attorney who represented Brian Hulsen says the proposed law misses the mark and could actually create more challenges in the court system.
"I think it is a little too simplistic and I think that is a problem because this is a very nuanced issue," says lawyer Joseph Lo Piccolo. "There is a difference between someone's First Amendment rights and someone speaking about something. "
Lo Piccolo says police need to act quickly when threats are made, but they need to investigate fully and tread carefully before filing charges.