1,700 students get day off school after IM threat

US teen faces five years in jail

An American teen was arrested yesterday after an Instant Message comment scared New York schools into closing for the day.

Benjamin Ballard made the threat to a student of Edgemont High School in Greenburgh, NY, via AOL Instant Messenger on Thursday. He told the student not to go to school the next day, mentioning "a lot of bodies", AP reports.

The student informed police, and the FBI traced the message to Ballard's address.

When cornered, Ballard told the FBI the comment was a joke. School officials, no doubt fearing a repeat of the Columbine massacre, decided to cancel classes for the Greenburgh school district on Friday, affecting almost 1,700 students.

Ballard was charged with transmitting a threat via interstate commerce. He faces a maximum sentence of five years in jail. ®

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