Three men in Greece are facing charges, accused of making bombs for an attack against a Muslim community in upstate New York.
The three men, 18-year-old Andrew Crysel of East Rochester, 19-year-old Vincent Vetromile of Greece, and 20-year-old Brian Colaneri of Gates are all charged with criminal possession of a weapon in the first degree and conspiracy. Officers say a 16-year-old boy is also facing charges in the case. His identity hasn’t been released due to his status as a minor.
Investigators say the trio had made explosive devices using mason jars and duct tape. Police say the jars had black powder inside along with projectiles like BBs and nails. Three bombs were found at the home of the minor. Twenty-three firearms were found at other locations connected to the investigation.
The FBI and ATF are assisting in the investigation. Police say agents in Quantico are currently analyzing the bombs.
We’re told the suspects planned to attack the small Muslim community of Islamberg in Delaware County — located between Albany and Binghamton. Police said, due to the ongoing investigation, they were unable to completely detail the plot the men were working on. However, they said the planning had been ongoing for about a month.
The four suspects were arrested after a tip from a Greece Odyssey student. Police say the student reported overhearing another student — the 16-year-old who was arrested — making a comment. Police say the boy told friends, while referring to a photo on a cell phone, “he looks like the next school shooter.”
Police say security passed the tip to police and the investigation led officers to uncovering the plot. Officer credit the student who reported the initial comment for potentially saving lives.
“Yeah, absolutely they saved lives,” said Chief Phelan. “If this plot went through, which every indication says they were going to, people would have died. I don’t know how many and who, but people would have died. So, the kid who initially said something to an adult saved people’s lives.”
Investigators have searched five to six locations linked to the plot including the home of a fifth person who hasn’t been charged.
However, police say they’ve only filed charges related to the weapons in the case. More people could be charged and more charges could be filed, Chief Phelan says, including federal charges connected to the plot. The investigation is ongoing and police say they are still reviewing electronic devices for the suspects along with other material. The Monroe County District Attorney and U.S. Attorney’s Office are reviewing the case.
Officers say there was never any threat made against Greece Odyssey or any student. The only target was Islamberg.
According to the Associated Press, Islamberg is a community that founded by a Pakistani cleric in the 1980s. Residents say the small hamlet often faces false accusations online of being a terrorist hotbed.