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Uniontown Area High School student charged with shooting threats

Paul Peirce
| Tuesday, March 20, 2018, 4:54 p.m.
Evan-Amos/Wikimedia Commons

Uniontown Police on Monday arrested an 18-year-old Uniontown Area High School student for allegedly making threats about a school shooting that was planned for Tuesday.

Tate Nathanial Ternitsky, who lists a Belle Vernon mailing address in court documents, was arraigned Monday on charges of risking a catastrophe, making terroristic threats and disorderly conduct before District Judge Michael Metros. He was released on $100,000 unsecured bond pending a preliminary hearing.

City police Officer Delbert DeWitt said that in an interview with school officials and police at the school Monday, Ternitsky said “that he meant it as a joke.”

“Ternitsky advised that he does not have any weapons and had no intentions of hurting others or himself,” DeWitt wrote in court papers.

Ternitsky's arrest came less than two months after a 14-year-old freshman at the school was arrested Jan. 25 with a cache of weapons after a student overheard him talking on a school bus about shooting four students.

The teen, who is charged in juvenile court, is charged by state police with terroristic threats, unlawful possession of a firearm and attempting to cause a catastrophe.

In the January case, a student on the bus who overheard the threat thwarted the teen's plan by telling his parents, who notified police. Troopers went to the suspect's home to interview the teen and his mother and obtained a search warrant.

State police found in the juvenile's bedroom one semi-automatic rifle, one shotgun, two machetes, throwing knives, two lever-action rifles, a revolver, a crossbow with arrows and bulk ammunition, according to District Attorney Richard Bower.

Multiple students notified school officials about Ternitsky's alleged threats between Friday and Monday, court documents show.

DeWitt said in the affidavit that students told school district police Chief Donald Gmitter they overheard Ternitsky making threats.

In first period Monday, Ternitsky allegedly said “he could shoot through the glass and then through the open window at students,” DeWitt reported. “Student ... advised that Tenitsky stated he would use a shotgun with three-round bursts. That student was unaware of specific targets.”

A third student reported that Ternitsky told him, “Don't come to school on time. Come late,” referring to Tuesday.

A fourth student said on Friday that the district attorney hosted an assembly to warn students about making school shooting threats and potential consequences.

“After the assembly, (Ternitsky told the student) how easy it would be to shoot up the school,” DeWitt wrote in court documents.

DeWitt said police searched his bag, which contained no weapons, according to court paperwork.

A telephone number was not available for Ternitsky and an attorney was not listed in court documents.

Attempts to reach school officials for comment Tuesday afternoon were unsuccessful.

Paul Peirce is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-850-2860, ppeirce@tribweb.com or via Twitter @ppeirce_trib.

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