The Examiner

Six Teens Arrested in Pair of Hawthorne Cedar Knolls Melees

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A series of violent incidents erupted Friday and Saturday at the Hawthorne Cedar Knolls campus in Mount Pleasant resulting in the arrest of six teenagers in a roughly 12-hour span.

Mount Pleasant Police Chief Paul Oliva said at about 1 p.m. on Friday, the department was called to the school, which serves as a residential treatment center, located at 226A Linda Ave. in Hawthorne.

“There were between 10 and 20 persons outside the school in an extremely agitated state,” Oliva said. “Staff had reported that they had five persons restrained in the school building.”

He said a larger crowd gathered and a melee broke out involving about 75 individuals when staff removed one of the agitators from the building to an awaiting bus, Oliva stated.

Mount Pleasant police requested mutual aid and officers responded from Pleasantville, New Castle, Ossining, Tarrytown, state police, the Westchester County Department of Public Safety and the New York City Department of Environmental Protection.

Three males, a 16-year-old and two 15-year-olds, were arrested in connection with the incident. They were charged with riot in the second degree and inciting to riot, both Class A misdemeanors. In addition, the 16-year-old was charged with felony criminal mischief for breaking windows. Identities of the three teenagers were not released because of their ages.

The two 15-year-olds were released to Cedar Knolls with family court appearance tickets and the 16-year-old was released back to the facility with a criminal court appearance ticket. The latter suspect is scheduled to return to court on Thursday.

Oliva said another incident took place at the facility about 1 a.m. Saturday. Mount Pleasant police were summoned to the girls unit of the campus after staff reported that “occupants of one of the rooms in the unit were using a lighter and a flammable aerosol can to attempt to set items on fire in the room,” he stated.

When police arrived there were five female residents who were uncooperative, refused to leave the room and were verbally abusive to patrol and staff, Oliva said. They eventually left the room, he said.

Police were told by staff that before they responded to the unit a 13-year-old girl sprayed a flammable aerosol at the face of one of the staff and ignited the spray. The staff person shielded his face and was not burned or injured, Oliva said. Police were able to locate the girl responsible for the attack.

“Due to the agitated status of many facility residents, the patrolmen on scene requested assistance knowing that when they took her into custody they would encounter resistance,” Oliva said.

Between 10 and 15 “agitated” residents were present when two town officers were kicked and punched by two 15-year-old girls while arresting the 13-year-old, police said. The officers were not injured.

The girl was charged with second-degree attempted assault, a Class E felony. The two 15-year-olds were charged with attempted assault on a police officer, also a Class E felony, and obstructing governmental administration, a Class A misdemeanor.

Mutual aid for the early morning incidents included county and state police and officers from Pleasantville and Greenburgh.

Oliva said the recent incidents were a “systemic failure” at the campus.

“The frequency and severity of these incidents appears to be indicative of some systemic failure that is occurring with the placement and handling of these youths, despite staff’s best efforts,” Oliva said. “I believe that this recalcitrant behavior is a foreboding of more serious events in the future.”

A previously scheduled town forum regarding how to bolster security around Hawthorne Cedar Knolls and the Cottage School will be held at Mount Pleasant Town Hall on Monday night at 8 p.m. Town residents are invited to attend the meeting, which will include town officials and police.



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