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Narrowsburg man arrested after threat against Sullivan West

Superintendent, Sheriff’s Office talks security

Vincent Kurzrock
Posted 2/13/24

LAKE HUNTINGTON AND JEFFERSONVILLE   -— A Narrowsburg man is under arrest after making a threat against the Sullivan West School District, according to the Sullivan County Sheriffs Office. …

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Narrowsburg man arrested after threat against Sullivan West

Superintendent, Sheriff’s Office talks security


LAKE HUNTINGTON AND JEFFERSONVILLE  -— A Narrowsburg man is under arrest after making a threat against the Sullivan West School District, according to the Sullivan County Sheriffs Office. 

Police said that after making social media posts  expressing dissatisfaction with the district with reference to a firearm the night before, Steven Kelly, age 37, was arrested by the Sheriff’s Office on Friday, February 2, at about 6:00 a.m.

The Sheriff’s Office also said that Kelly had allegedly made verbal statements at his place of employment about “shooting everyone.” The defendant denied having any firearms and none were found. Following the investigation, a BB gun was recovered from Kelly’s residence at the time of arrest.

According to the Sheriff’s Office, Kelly was arraigned Friday afternoon, February 2, before Town of Liberty Judge Troy Johnstone on a misdemeanor charge of Making a Threat of Mass Harm. 

He was released without bail under current New York State Law.

The Sullivan County District Attorney’s Office filed an emergency order against Kelly that prohibits him from obtaining a firearm. An order of protection has also been issued prohibiting him from school grounds. 

On Friday morning after Kelly’s arrest, extra Deputy Sheriffs were sent to the school to meet students and staff as they arrived as a precaution.

“We worked closely with the school district and District Attorney’s Office to address this matter quickly and efficiently,” said Sheriff Mike Schiff. “The investigation is complete and it does not appear that there was any danger to the students or staff at Sullivan West.”

Security upgrades  still to come

The anticipated upgrades to the security systems at the schools in the district as included in the voter-approved Capital Project are still expected to be put in place in light of the district’s  incoming loss of over $2 million in State aid, as Bressler confirmed the loss will have no impact on the security of the school district.

“Safety is a top priority of the district, and we will continue to build on this work despite the reduction in funding,” Bressler said.

Following a safety audit completed by Homeland Security in 2022, the Superintendent noted the most costly recommendation was the addition of security vestibules for both buildings.

“Other recommended items have been reviewed and prioritized by our District Safety Committee. Our committee includes members of the Emergency Response Teams in both buildings, faculty, staff, administration, SROs and community members,” Bressler said. “They included items that have smaller costs such as improving our signage outside the buildings and holding tabletop exercises.”

“This past Friday our first tabletop exercise was held with the Deputy Commissioner of Public Safety/Fire Coordinator, John Hauschild, and his team: Jill Hubert-Simon, Deputy Public Health Director and Jenna Knox, RN. A second tabletop exercise is planned for next month at the Middle-High School,” Bressler said. 

“We are grateful for this support available at no cost.”

Bressler noted that the upgrades are expected to begin in early July with the hopes of being completed by the start of the school year in the fall.

“Sullivan West will continue to work on our safety plans and procedures with experts in the field and our internal teams to build upon our schools’ safety.”

However, a number of parents within the school district are expected to make an appearance before the Board of Education with concerns regarding safety and security during their meeting on Thursday, February 15th.

Main concerns include delayed notification of threats, lack of preparation and poor risk assessment.

Combating  misinformation

Superintendent of Sullivan West, Dr. Kathleen Bressler, recently released a statement regarding public safety at the school on February 7.

In the statement, the Superintendent reassured that law enforcement determined last week’s threat to be non-credible and that their schools were not in immediate danger. 

Bressler acknowledged that the nature of the threat was alarming even if it was untrue and stressed that all threats are always taken seriously.

The Sheriff’s Office expressed concern over misinformation being spread about the incident on social media, as well as their support of Sullivan West’s administration.

“Superintendent Dr. Katheen Bressler made two proper and timely notifications to the parents and students of the school district last week,” said Sheriff Mike Schiff. “There is no basis for the current rumors and speculation that persist among social media users.”


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