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Nutley Police Make Arrest In Instagram School Threat Case


NUTLEY, NJ — An 18-year-old high school student has been charged with Third Degree False Public Alarm after an Instagram post led the Nutley school district to close schools last week.

Joseph Rafanello, a senior at Nutley High School, was arrested and taken to Essex County Jail.The arrest followed a full investigation by the police. The video at the center of the investigation contains images of the the student in school, with friends and at a firing range. The song playing in the video is 2001 Foster the People's 2011 song "Pumped Up Kicks."

Chief Thomas Strumolo said that the investigation did not uncover any further active security threats to the Nutley Public Schools. The department will continue to work with the Nutley Public Schools district to guarantee the safety of the schools, students, and staff in the district. 

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When students return to school on Monday, residents may notice the increase in patrols around the schools. Strumolo said he put these in place as a proactive measure and that these are not related to any further threats. 

Strumolo and Nutley Public Safety Commissioner Alphonse Petracco stressed their gratitude to the parents in the district as well as the community at large for their patience as this matter was investigated. Gratitude was also expressed to the Nutley Detective Bureau and the Essex County Prosecutors Office for their assistance.

The news of the video broke Thursday, Feb. 15, one day after the school shooting in Parkland, Florida. Nutley Public Schools Superintendent of Schools Dr. Julie Glazer  said she made the decision late Thursday to close Nutley Schools on Friday, Feb. 16, out of an abundance of caution. All Nutley schools are closed this week for winter break. 

Petracco and Strumolo said that anyone thinking about making threats to the schools will be identified and prosecuted utilizing all available resources — all threats will be taken seriously will be fully investigated.

The Nutley Police Department said that all defendants are presumed innocent unless and until they enter a guilty plea or are found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

After news of the arrest broke, Nutley Public School Superintendent Dr. Julie Glazer issued a letter to all parents, staff, and community members. Update on Nutley Public Schools Security

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