Colchester teen resolves school threat case

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A former student of Bacon Academy high school in Colchester pleaded guilty Tuesday in Superior Court in Norwich to making a threatening social media post indicating there would be a shooting at the school.

Nicholas M. Burtis, 19, of 46 Skyview Drive pleaded guilty to second-degree threatening.

Attorney Richard J. Perry, supervisor of public defenders in Norwich, and Senior Assistant State's Attorney Thomas M. DeLillo worked out an agreement in which Burtis is to take part in LEAP, a residential program, and be placed on electronic monitoring under the supervision of the Bail Commissioner's office, with an "exclusion zone" that includes Bacon Academy. He is required to work on employment and follow up with a military recruiter he had met with previously.  

If he is successful, the state has agreed to vacate Burtis' guilty plea after six months. If not, he will be sentenced to two years of probation and have a Class A misdemeanor on his record. He has no previous record.

"I'm confident if he gets through this program, he's going to be fine," Perry said by phone Tuesday afternoon.

Arrested in February 2018, Burtis spent about three months in prison while his case was pending.

According to an arrest warrant affidavit written by Colchester police Officer Eric Watrous, Burtis created a fake Instagram account with the screen name yvung_methodic, in which he posed as another student and posted a photo of the school shooting that had occurred four days earlier at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.

The picture had been posted by a student inside a classroom during the Florida shooting and said, "Our (expletive) school is getting shot up." Burtis wrote in the caption, "This is going to be bacon soon I'm a hard (racial expletive) from Manchester" with a skull emoji face.

A female student shared the post with Colchester police, saying the caption had been taken down two or three hours after she saw it.

Burtis told the police the post was a prank on the student whose identity he assumed, that he could understand how people could get upset and that he had deleted them soon after they were posted.

Burtis' parents told police he has reactive attachment disorder and emotional attachment disorder, is a loner, has been alienating friends lately, quit school, does not work, will not socialize or engage with his parents and has been concealing swords and daggers on his person, according to the affidavit.

Police said they seized from the home a sword with a 28-inch blade and mini dagger with a 6-inch cutting edge.

Judge Nuala E. Droney told Burtis the court was trying to balance the need to keep the community safe with finding a way for him to become a successful member of society. She added that there would be zero tolerance if he did not comply with the conditions of his plea agreement.

k.florin@theday.com

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