Weapons charges issued, 2 arrested after social media post spurs frenzy of school, business lockouts
Weapon, body armor was seen in an online video that got law enforcement involved
CHENANGO (WBNG) -- Two men have been charged in an investigation that was surrounded by school and business lockouts on Monday.
The Broome County Sheriff’s Office announced 42-year-old Nicholas Skiba of Johnson City and 28-year-old Keith Hall of Chenango Forks were charged with criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree and four counts of criminal possession of a weapon in the third degree, all felony charges.
The sheriff’s office said it was made aware of Skiba, apparently wearing ballistic body armor, live streaming on Facebook while driving. Due to the content of the stream, authorities contacted Skiba’s family members, resulting in several lockouts at schools and places associated with his family. A handgun was seen in the stream.
Hall was a passenger in the vehicle with Skiba.
The sheriff’s office said during the investigation, it was determined Skiba was not legally permitted to possess guns in New York State. Deputies obtained a search warrant for Skiba’s cell phone and Facebook location data and records. That information indicated Skiba was in the area of Route 12 in the area of Chenango Forks.
Deputies found Skiba’s vehicle parked and unoccupied in front of a residence at 2553 State Rt. 12 and were able to get Skiba and Hall to come out of the residence without incident after a brief phone call.
Inside the residence, authorities found numerous weapons, including the handgun seen on Facebook Live. They also found two black powder pistols, five handguns, three shotguns, four rifles and several large-capacity magazines. Three of the weapons were defaced in an attempt to hide the serial number.
The sheriff’s office said it applied for and received an Extreme Risk Protection Order under New York State’s Red Flag Law. An ERPO is applied for and issued when there is a reasonable belief that someone who is in possession of firearms is a threat to themselves or others. In August, Governor Kathy Hochul said the law has seen increased usage this year.
The orders were subsequently served on both Skiba and Hall at the Broome County Sheriff’s Office Correctional Facility.
Schools, such as the Whitney Point and Chenango Valley school districts, underwent lockouts Monday morning citing safety concerns. Initially, those concerns were reported out of the Village of Whitney Point.
Additionally, UHS Wilson Medical Center and UHS Binghamton General Hospital also issued lockouts for their facilities but said that there were no direct threats made toward them.
Broome County Sheriff David Harder said social media played a part in embellishing the details of the situation Monday. He said the schools were never in any real danger.
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