A Ronkonkoma resident has been arrested for making threats at Cherokee Street Elementary School in Ronkonkoma on Friday, January 13.
The man, identified as John Carroll, 63, drove into the parking lot of the elementary school, located at 130 Cherokee Street, at approximately 3 p.m., screaming threatening statements at school staff.
The Connetquot Central School District notified parents via email about the incident later that evening.
“Following dismissal at Cherokee Street Elementary School this afternoon, a man in a white car was seen circling the school parking lot and witnesses heard him voicing inappropriate and concerning comments before exiting the campus. While the remarks were not directed at the school nor were any students present, the matter was referred to the Suffolk County Police Department. The incident is currently under investigation by SCPD, and the district’s security team is working in collaboration. At this time, please be assured that identifiable features of the vehicle have been obtained and that information is now with the SCPD and their crime control unit.”
The Suffolk County Police Department’s Fourth Precinct Crime Section officers located Carroll at his residence at around 12:14 a.m. and charged him with a misdemeanor for making a threat of mass harm. Carroll was held overnight at the 6th Precinct in Selden.
Parents in the neighborhood have voiced their concerns.
“I’ve lived here my whole life,” said Jacqueline Bracht, 38, of Ronkonkoma. “I even attended Cherokee Street School. The staff and the school itself has such a great reputation with the community. Everyone has such great things to say about Cherokee so it’s so bizarre for someone to just go up there and go off like that. I’m happy that they caught him so quick, it would have been even scarier knowing he was still roaming around.”
“What was that about?” said Patricia Johnson, whose son attended Cherokee. “Do you know how scary that is? My son was in Cherokee not that long ago and it’s just a scary thought that someone can just go up there and make threats like that. Those teachers have always been so great, it’s just so sad that this happened here. I really hope that this is the last we hear about something like this.”
“I sound so naïve, but I can’t believe this happened right here. Just shows how much the world is changing,” said another Ronkonkoma resident. “Mental health is a very serious issue. No one pays attention to it until it happens in your own backyard. Hopefully he gets the help that he needs and I’m hoping for peace for all of those involved.”
Carroll was arraigned at First District Court in Central Islip on January 15. He is expected back in court on January 31. He was released under non-monetary conditions (NMR).