November 26, 2021

Lawyer needs time in city school threat

Man worried Cortland High School

Joe McIntyre/staff photographer

Jensen R. Schack, who is charged with making a threat against Cortland Junior-Senior High School, attends a conference Thursday in front of Judge Julie Campbell at the Cortland County Courthouse. A defense lawyer said he is hoping to work out a plea deal and county District Attorney Patrick Perfetti said he is waiting for a proposal.

The lawyer representing a Plymouth teenager accused of making a terroristic threat against Cortland High School is preparing an offer to settle the charges, but the county district attorney is surprised he hasn’t seen a plea deal, yet.

Jensen P. Schack, 19, was in Cortland County Court on Thursday for a conference in his case on charges of making a terroristic threat, a felony, toward the school on March 2. His $100,000 bail was continued by Judge Julie Campbell.

Schack, who is still being held in the Cortland County Jail, was led in and out of the courtroom by county sheriff’s personnel.

According to police documents, Schack posted pictures March 2 on Snapchat displaying an AR-style rifle, with the caption “Cortland highschool (sic) watch out.” The incident occurred just days after a former student walked into a high school in Parkland, Florida, and killed 17 people, including 14 students.

District Attorney Patrick Perfetti said after Thursday’s brief court appearance that he is awaiting an offer from the county Public Defender’s Office and he was surprised he had not been contacted and no defense attorney had reviewed the file on the case available in his office.

“I received nothing,” Perfetti said.

Assistant Public Defender Tom Miller said after the court appearance that his office is preparing to make a proposal to settle the charges, but needs more time.

Miller told Campbell he would file motions by the May 21 deadline. The prosecution would have until June 4 to respond.

“It would be premature. … I am hopeful to get some kind of plea offer,” he said after the court appearance. “There is a background we are trying to develop.”

The charge against Shack is a class D violent felony that would result in a mandatory prison sentence, Perfetti said. State law advises a twoto seven-year sentence for a class D violent felony.

Schack is a high school graduate with no prior criminal record, which would work in his favor in any plea agreement, Perfetti said.

While attending Cortland High School, Schack participated on the school track and wrestling teams.

After a psychological evaluation requested by Perfetti, Schack was found fit to stand trial.

Police said they began investigating after a report of a man posting photos and video of a threat directed toward Cortland High School from his Snapchat account March 2. Armed with a search warrant, Cortland County Sheriff’s officers and police from other agencies went to Schack’s residence, arrested him and confiscated an AR-style semiautomatic rifle and ammunition.

“I thought everyone on my Snapchat would understand my … sense of humor, but I guess … not,” the 2016 graduate of the school told police in a statement laced with racial slurs and vulgarities.

According to court documents, Schack said he is handsome, has a girlfriend and was not going to shoot up the school. He went on to add that school shooters do not look like him, “they’re nasty and listen to that stupid heavy metal … .”