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Student made bomb threat at St. John’s: DA

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Police said a student who had previously been disciplined was arrested on a list of charges.

The Queens district attorney's office announced Friday the arrest and pending arraignment of Raaz Patel, 20, of 222nd Street in Queens Village, on charges of falsely reporting an incident, reckless endangerment and aggravated harassment. He could face up to seven years in prison if convicted.

The DA's office said Patel did not have a criminal record in Queens.

The school sent an alert via e-mail and text message to students, staff and faculty Thursday saying that an anonymous caller had made a threat that a bomb would be placed at a building on the Queens campus Friday morning.

"A threat was made, the university community was alerted by internal communication and an arrest has since been made through the NYPD," said a St. john's spokeswoman.

According to the criminal charges filed with the DA's office, Patel anonymously called the university's Department of Public Safety at about 10 a.m. Thursday and said a bomb would be detonated on the school campus. At about 3 p.m. Thursday, a professor discovered a handwritten note taped to a monitor in a lecture hall stating that bombs would be blown up at the school and that the informant had been taken care of, according to the charges. Police traced the call back to Patel's home, the DA said.

When he was arrested, Patel admitted that he had made the telephone threat and that it was not true, the DA said. Patel also admitted he had written the note found on the monitor, that it was a lie and he had done it because he was angry at the school, according to the district attorney.

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The school implemented the emergency alert system in September, where the campus community could sign up for e-mail or text message bulletins. Initially, about 2,100 students signed up for the program. Its first test happened last September, when a 23-year-old freshman entered the Queens campus wearing a rubber mask and carrying a black powder rifle, and was apprehended minutes later by a campus security officer and a member of the school's NYPD cadet program. Within a week of the incident, enrollment in the alert program quadrupled.

"We are working with the NYPD and experts to assess the threat and we will advise the university community on appropriate safety precautions as we evaluate the threat," the e-mail said. "Please stay connected to standard university communication channels including the Web, e-mail and text messages for instructions. We ask that you continue to assist the Public Safety Office by alerting us to any unusual packages, behaviors and communications that you may witness."

Reach reporter Alex Christodoulides by e-mail at achristodoulides@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 155.

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