Parents in Milton got a warning from the school district by telephone Thursday morning.
"We are contacting you to inform you that we had a police presence at Milton High School today. There is an active investigation regarding events that took place off campus that involve some of our Milton students," the message said.
One of those students is Landon Dusablon, 17. The teenager is facing a five-year felony charge for allegedly conspiring to gun down two Milton school principals and a teacher, as well as threatening to rape a Burlington Tech math teacher.
"The world has changed after Newtown, Connecticut. And I don't think anybody has any tolerance for kids talking about going into a school and shooting it up," Chittenden County Prosecutor T.J. Donovan said.
Police say in February, Dusablon used his school-issued laptop to devise the violent plan on Facebook with fellow student Ethan Homola, 17. On Wednesday, detectives stumbled upon the message exchange while they were investigating Dusablon's involvement in a separate assault and robbery.
In court, Dusablon denied the allegations and his lawyer claimed the online exchange was a joke, protected by the 1st Amendment.
"We are allowed to speak, but when we speak there has to be something more. A conversation that takes place in a bedroom between two friends that are miles apart, I mean clearly this conversation evolves into such a ridiculous conversation," said Sarah Reed, Dusablon's lawyer.
"We're going to hold this kid accountable because we don't think it's an idle threat. We don't think it's just kids being kids. We're going to take it seriously and we're going to treat him like an adult," Donovan said.
Late Thursday, police arrested Homola, charging him with the same crime. He, too, pleaded not guilty. Prosecutors say the kids had ample access to firearms. Police seized a variety of handguns and rifles from both homes after the boys' parents consented to searches.
The state wanted the students held on $25,000 bail, but Vt. Superior Court Judge Michael Kupersmith denied that request. Dusablon and Homola were released into the custody of court-appointed guardians.
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