Greece, NY – A tip from a concerned high school student led to the arrest of four people who were planning to attack a Muslim community in New York, according to police.
Brian Colaneri, 20, Vincent Vetromile, 19, Andrew Crysel, 18, and an unnamed 16-year-old male were all charged with fourth-degree conspiracy and three counts of first-degree criminal possession of a dangerous weapon following their arrests on Saturday, USA Today reported.
The sinister plot came to light after a Greece Odyssey Academy student overheard the 16-year-old suspect talking with someone else in the cafeteria on Friday, Greece Police Chief Patrick Phelan said.
The boy showed the other person a photo on his phone, and “made a comment to the effect, ‘he looks like the next school shooter, doesn’t he?’” Chief Phelan explained.
The student that overheard the conversation was concerned about the teen’s comment, and told school administrators about what had occurred.
Greece police soon learned that the 16-year-old student and his three accomplices had constructed a “serious plot” to carry out an attack against the Muslim community of Islamberg, USA Today reported.
The community, which sits on over 60 acres near the Catskill Mountains in Delaware County, was established in accordance with the teachings of Pakistani Sufi cleric Mubarik Ali Gilani, who encouraged his followers to establish their own communities in rural areas to focus on their religious beliefs, USA Today reported.
Investigators are working to establish a potential motive behind the plot, Chief Phelan said.
According to court documents, investigators found three homemade bombs at the 16-year-old suspect’s home.
The cylindrical-shaped devices were each wrapped in duct tape, and appeared to be filled with nails and black powder, Chief Phelan said.
The bombs will be examined by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, he said.
Police also recovered 23 firearms during the course of the investigation, and speculated that the group had been plotting the attack for about a month, WROC reported.
Between five and six locations have been searched thus far, and investigators are still examining the suspects’ electronic devices, police said.
Additional charges may be forthcoming.
Greece Central School District Superintendent Kathleen Graupman praised the student who overheard the lunchroom conversation for alerting school personnel about the situation.
“They trusted their instincts and used what they learned in school,” she told USA Today. ” The outcome of this investigation proves that our system works. I want to emphasize that our schools are safe because of the actions of many.”