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SJU pupil made Va. Tech-style threat: Brown

A St. John’s University student (inset) allegedly threatened to conduct a “Virginia Tech attack” on the campus, according to authorities. Inset courtesy of MySpace
By Ivan Pereira

A Facebook posting last week by a drunk St. John’s University student turned up anything but laughs after school officials feared it could lead to a Virginia Tech-style shooting on the Queens campus, the Queens district attorney said.

Radames Santiago, 18, of Manhattan, was arraigned Sept. 16 in Queens Criminal Court and charged with making a terrorist threat after he said he was going to “go crazy” and kill students on his Facebook Web page last week, Queens DA Richard Brown said.

“If a defendant posts a threat on a social networking site, it will be treated seriously and investigated thoroughly. Students should feel that they are in a safe environment when they attend school,” the DA said in a statement.

Santiago, who attends the university, posted several messages on his Facebook page Sept. 14 and 15, one of which said “people should watch as he does some Virginia Tech [stuff],” according to the DA. He also posted a message that said, “You know I will, and to make sure that people watch CNN or something,” Brown said.

Santiago was referring to the April 2007 massacre in which a Virginia Tech University student killed 32 people on campus before taking his own life. A couple of months later, St. John’s student Omesh Hiraman was arrested at the college after he was seen carrying a Halloween mask and a rifle.

Several St. John’s students saw Santiago’s postings and called university officials, who contacted the police, according to Brown. After he was arrested, Santiago told detectives he was drunk and depressed “about everything” at the time he posted the comments, the DA said.

Queens Criminal Court Judge Toko Serita ordered him to return to court Oct. 1, the DA said. He was released sometime last Thursday on $2,000 bail.

St. John’s officials would not disclose any information on Santiago, but said they were coopering with the police investigation. Students were informed about the incident via e-mail.

If convicted, he faces up to seven years in prison, according to Brown.

Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at ipereira@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 146.

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