McMullin case headed to Oneida County grand jury

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VERONA — The Oneida man charged with making threats that put Durhamville Elementary School on lockdown last week did so after a confrontation between a student and a school resource officer, according to testimony in Verona Town Court Tuesday afternoon.

Following the court hearing on Tuesday, Jase I. McMullin, 31, will have his case forwarded to an Oneida County grand jury for a possible indictment. McMullin is charged with one count of making a terroristic threat, a class D felony.

McMullin appeared before Verona Town Justice Randall D. Smith for a felony hearing, where two witnesses were called to testify about the threat and the lockdown on June 15.

The first witness was a school secretary who testified that she received the threatening telephone call.

The woman testified that there had been an incident on campus involving a student and a school resource officer (SRO), during which the SRO apparently put his hands on the student. The details of the incident were not disclosed during the testimony.

The secretary testified that she called the student’s mother to pick him up from school, and the mother arrived a short time later to take all of her children out of the school.

About 20 minutes later, around 3:30 p.m., the secretary testified that she received a phone call from a man claiming to be the student’s “step-father,” and it was a person she recognized from previous telephone calls. This caller — McMullin — was the mother’s boyfriend, not husband, according to prosecutors.

On the phone, McMullin told the secretary to either put the principal or the SRO on the phone or “he would come turn his gun on him,” the secretary testified.

Shocked by the threat, the secretary said she told McMullin, “Please don’t talk to me that way.”

Which prompted McMullin to respond, “Fine, then I’ll turn it on you,” before he hung up, according to testimony.

“I was absolutely terrified,” the secretary told the judge. “The anger in his voice certainly sounded like he was coming for me right now.”

The secretary testified that she immediately told the SRO and school officials about the threat, and she was advised to notify the regional resource officer.

The regional officer told her to immediately put the school on lockdown and to call 911. The secretary said she announced the lockdown over the loudspeaker at the school.

She told the judge that school was already out for the day and only two busloads of students remained on campus. She said those students were taken to a secure room in the building, and faculty locked their doors. She said the lockdown lasted about half an hour, and it was ended after they were told that McMullin was in custody.

“I understood then that he was on his way to the school to cause us harm, the staff and the students,” the secretary testified.

The second witness was State Police Investigator Matthew Kulik, who testified about interviewing McMullin for about two hours at the state police headquarters in Oneida after he was in custody.

“He conceded that he did make the phone call, he showed us the call log” on his cell phone, Kulik told the judge.

According to Kulik, McMullin said the telephone threat towards the SRO was: “If he touches my kid again, he’s going to have to use his gun on me.”

Following the testimony, Public Defender John A. Panzone argued before the judge that McMullin’s actions did not match the felony charge against him.

“It just doesn’t rise to the level of terroristic threat,” Panzone stated, arguing that the threat over the telephone was not one seeking to alter the course of a government entity.

“It was an open-ended statement of frustration,” the defense argued.

Judge Smith ruled that the threat matched the legal definition of “intent to intimidate.” Judge Smith ordered the case forwarded to the county level.

McMullin is being held in the county jail on $25,000 cash bail or $50,000 bond. Judge Smith also declined to lower the bail.

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