A Forest Hills High School senior from Maspeth was arrested early Friday morning after an Internet buddy told authorities he had allegedly boasted of a plot to carry out a Columbine-like massacre on a New York City school, officials said.
Lukasz Lagucik, 17, of 59-77 60th Place in Maspeth apologized in a handwritten note read aloud during his arraignment at midnight Friday in Queens Criminal Court, where he was charged with making a terroristic threat, falsely reporting an incident and aggravated harassment, said Patrick Clark, the spokesman for the Queens district attorney. He faces up to seven years in prison if convicted.
"I was foolish what I did and I'm really sorry for this. Everybody makes mistakes," Lagucik wrote in a statement that was read into the record by Assistant District Attorney Kateri Gasper.
Lagucik's arrest came after a rapid relay of information between authorities in New York and Arkansas, where a female high school student who had chatted with Lagucik via the Internet told her principal about his alleged threat of school violence, according to the criminal complaint filed by the DA's office.
A statement she typed at the police station in Wynne, Ark. was forwarded to the New York State Police, who obtained Lagucik's address from Earthlink, his Internet service provider. Police raided his family's Maspeth home early Friday morning, arresting Lagucik and seizing his personal computer, authorities said. They did not find any weapons, law enforcement sources said.
In his statement, Lagucik said he had only recently started entering Internet chat rooms, where he would strike up conversations with girls and concoct stories of violence to frighten them.
"I started conversations saying 'What's up?' and then tried to scare them by talking about making bombs and purchasing guns and going into the school and just shooting people there," Lagucik said in his statement.
Claiming to have stocked up on guns and made bombs in his garage, Lagucik allegedly told the girl he planned to go on a shooting spree at 11:18 a.m. last Thursday, replicating the 1999 rampage at Columbine High School in Colorado that killed 12 people, the complaint said. He even sent her pictures of Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, the two Columbine students who carried out the massacre before killing themselves.
In the his latest on-line conversation with the girl last Thursday afternoon, Lagucik allegedly wrote that he went to school at 11:15 a.m. with guns in tow but left because his friend got cold feet, the complaint said. But he told her he planned to return the following day to do the deed himself, authorities said.
Lagucik told the girls his name was Ryan and his friend's name was Peter, although in his written statement he insisted, "I was in this by myself."
Lagucik is being charged under the anti-terrorism statute passed by the state Legislature only a week after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, which classified making terrorist threats as a Class-D felony punishable by a seven-year prison term.
Kenneth Finkelman, Lagucik's attorney, said his client is innocent because he did not intend to terrorize people with his apparent threats.
"This is a really great kid. He's nearly a straight-A student, he's an altar boy at his church and when you talk to the neighbors in his community, they're all saying he's a great kid," Finkelman said. "I think when things calm down and people start applying common sense to this case, what they're going to realize is the criminal intent is missing. The terrorism statue clearly requires intent to terrorize the population, and that isn't here."
Lagucik's arrest was announced at a news conference Friday held by Gov. George Pataki, State Police Superintendent James McMahon and Queens DA Richard Brown.
"We must and will have zero tolerance for this type of behavior, particularly when aimed at our students and our schools," Pataki said in a press release.
Kevin Ortiz, a spokesman for the city Department of Education, said the threat did not result in any additional security at the schools because authorities said it was likely a hoax.
"When we received the notification from the state, they had already said the state police did not deem it credible," Ortiz said Monday.
Neighbors described Lagucik, the son of Polish immigrants, as a polite young man from a good family.
"We were shocked, because he is a very quiet boy," said Renza Chiodi, 37, a travel agent who lives across the street. "It's a shame he has to ruin his life for this. I hope he gets a very light sentence. I just think it was talk."
His next-door neighbor, a Polish woman close to Lagucik's family who declined to give her name, said she could only say good things about him.
"He's very friendly, a very shy person. He always says hello for everybody, for every neighbor," the neighbor said. "Everybody likes him, everybody."
Reach reporter Dustin Brown by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 154.
©2003 Community News Group
By submitting this comment, you agree to the following terms:
You agree that you, and not TimesLedger.com or its affiliates, are fully responsible for the content that you post. You agree not to post any abusive, obscene, vulgar, slanderous, hateful, threatening or sexually-oriented material or any material that may violate applicable law; doing so may lead to the removal of your post and to your being permanently banned from posting to the site. You grant to TimesLedger.com the royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual and fully sublicensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such content in whole or in part world-wide and to incorporate it in other works in any form, media or technology now known or later developed.