Wednesday March 7, 2012

PITTSFIELD -- A former Drury High School student who made a violent threat against the North Adams school pleaded guilty in Berkshire Superior Court on Wednesday.

Before he's sentenced, a psychiatric evaluation was ordered for Zachary T. Barbeau, who is likely to be given probation next month in the case.

Barbeau acknowledged that he created a Facebook account in November using the name "Joe Barbeau" and then posted that he would go to the school with a gun and kill anyone who "looks at me the wrong way." School officials took extra security measures that day, but didn't cancel classes.

Barbeau, 19, of Commercial Street in Adams, later told police he didn't plan on following through with the threat and that "it was a dumb thing to do," according to Second Assistant Berkshire District Attorney Robert W. Kinzer III.

The police determined that Barbeau didn't have access to any guns, said Kinzer.

Barbeau pleaded guilty to single counts of threatening the use of a deadly weapon and causing serious public alarm, threat to commit assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, and disruption of a public assembly.

The plea came through a District Attorney's complaint, a process which bypasses the grand jury.

Barbeau suffers from post traumatic stress disorder and anxiety disorder, according to his statements in court.

Barbeau's lawyer, Richard D. LeBlanc, told Judge John A. Agostini that his client also has learning disabilities.

The prosecution and defense agreed that the psychiatric evaluation was appropriate and would help in determining the proper punishment.

Kinzer said that depending on the exam's results the DA's office would likely be asking for a probation period and community service. Barbeau will be sentenced on April 27.

According to Kinzer, the police and school district response to the incident was "absolutely appropriate." He pointed out that Barbeau was arrested less than 12 hours after posting the threat.

The investigation was handled by state police detectives assigned to the District Attorney's Office, state troopers assigned to the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force and members of the North Adams and Adams Police Departments.

Drury High School officials put a series of safety protocols in place when they learned of the threat, but did not cancel classes, a move that some parents found fault with.