A Greece man is accused of threatening to shoot up a school in a music video posted to YouTube, according to Greece police.
Randy Ross, 23, is charged with making a terroristic threat, a felony. He was arraigned Tuesday in Greece Town Court and remanded to the Monroe County Jail in lieu of $50,000 cash bail or $100,000 property bond.
“Ross’s arrest is in connection with a YouTube video that he can be seen in saying and making terroristic threats on various school properties in the Greece School District,” police said in a release.
A music video called “School Shooter,” featured the outside of Greece Arcadia High School and possibly two other Greece schools, Greece Police Sgt. Jared Rene said.
WARNING: This video posted on YouTube contains explicit language:
The video was posted to YouTube on Feb. 19. The lyrics included “I lay em down like a school shooter,” and “I’ll show up at your lunch, here expletive eat this.”
The video had about 100 page views on YouTube by 5:30 p.m. Tuesday.
“We take any threat seriously, especially as it relates to schools and school safety,” Rene said. “While no school was mentioned specifically, the person in the video, Randy Ross, was seen at various properties, various schools, and then the lyrics within the song and the content of that video, it was alarming to us.”
Rene said Ross is a former student in the district, and he added that Ross has a criminal record but declined to offer specifics.
Greece police conferred with the Monroe County District Attorney’s Office before making the arrest.
According to state penal code, a person is “guilty of making a terroristic threat when… he or she threatens to commit or cause to be committed a specified offense and thereby causes a reasonable expectation or fear of the imminent commission of such offense.”
It continues, “It shall be no defense to a prosecution pursuant to this section that the defendant did not have the intent or capability of committing the specified offense or that the threat was not made to a person who was a subject thereof.”
Google searches on Ross, and Randy Ross the Rappin Boss, found several other music videos, a Facebook fan page with 1,055 likes and a Soundcloud page with another 30 tracks posted by Ross.
“My video has officially reached the police officials. And they just came to my job and questioned me. On everything I love. Please share my video before it gets removed,” according to a Facebook post that appears to be Ross, posted at 3 p.m. Monday.
In a statement, officials from Greece schools said they were made aware of the video by a resident who also contacted police. Rene said a community member messaged the department through Facebook to alert them of the video.
“This case is evidence that the community is heeding the advice of school leaders by observing, reporting, and following up on all suspicious activity,” the statement said.
School districts have seen an uptick in “calls to anonymous tip lines” following the mass shooting in Parkland, Florida. Because of this, “Communities are banding together to do whatever it takes to keep our kids and our schools are safe,” according to the statement. “Remember — if you see something, say something.”
Greece Superintendent Kathy Graupman said in a statement, “School safety is not work that we can do alone. …Together we focus on prevention, which includes investigating social media posts, following up on threats of violence, and intervening to prevent conflicts before they escalate.
The arrest raises questions about whether or not the content of the music video is protected by the First Amendment, whether it is within a person’s free speech rights to make such declarations. Police are left to determine what is free speech and what is a credible threat.
“It’s a delicate balance,” Rene said. “There is protected speech, but in this instance, it you take the totality of the content of this video specifically, it very much fits a violation of the penal code.”
Rene called it an “evolving conversation.” The Greece Police Department has two school resource officers. The officers each have two high schools assigned to them. Greece has four public high schools within the district.
Rene doesn’t foresee any other people being charged in this incident. Police were alerted to the video Monday morning and Ross was questioned by investigators during the afternoon.
The Greece arrest is emblematic of a recent rise of threats on social media to schools across the country. Ross is the second Rochester-area person to be charged with making a terroristic threat in the last week.
Abigail Hernandez, 21, of Rochester was charged last week with making a terroristic threat. Police allege Hernandez posted a threat on the East High School Facebook page through an anonymous account. In the post, Hernandez allegedly stated, “I’m coming tomorrow morning and I’m going to shoot all of ya bitches.”
Police said they found a shotgun in Hernandez’s home. But her parents say the gun wasn’t in the family home, but was instead in one of their rental properties nearby.
On Monday, a judge ordered Hernandez to be returned to the Monroe County Jail after being held in a federal detention center in Batavia while the charge is presented to a grand jury. Police say she is an undocumented immigrant and faces deportation proceedings.
Her parents say that Hernandez was part of a special education program in the Rochester City School District.
Multiple school districts across the country have closed as police continue to investigate threats made against students and staff. The threats come in the wake of Valentine’s Day shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida, where 17 people were killed.