Niagara Gazette

February 6, 2014

Tonawanda school trespasser was not a threat

By Jessica Bagley
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — The Ken-Ton school district and town police are assuring parents that a City of Tonawanda man who entered Kenmore West and made disjointed statements about the Sandy Hook massacre did not pose a threat to students.

"Superintendent of schools thanks security staff for their reaction and has reminded all school buildings and staff members to ensure that all doors are closed as much as possible at dismissal times and during the school day," a statement on the district website reads. 

Derie O. Mohamed, 36, of Hillcrest Drive, was charged with third-degree criminal trespassing after students and a teacher observed him walking around the school on Tuesday. Mohamed is a former student of the school, police said. 

"It was a busy time of the day and students were leaving the school," Capt. Joseph Carosi said. "It's likely that he entered when someone else was leaving and then just blended into the crowd."

School Resource Officer Richard Engler confronted Mohamed, who was not signed in as a visitor and did not have a legal right to be in the building. 

“While he was speaking ... he stated that he was glad that security was tight at the school because of Sandy Hook,” the police report about the incident states. 

Mohamed, who said he had recently been to Somalia, also asked if teachers should be armed due to various security risks, and voluntarily said "I am not a terrorist." 

As a result of those statements, the town police department contacted the Federal Bureau of Investigation and agents interviewed him Tuesday evening.

"We haven't had contact with him since then," Maureen Dempsey, FBI public affairs specialist said. 

Despite the FBI's questioning, Carosi stressed that Mohamed was not a threat and was not armed. 

"By all accounts, it was a guy walking around in a school he used to go to. There wasn't a great danger," he said. 

Mohamed is being held without bail at the Erie County Holding Center pending a forensic exam.