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County seeks commitment in threats case

By Janice Gregorson

gregor@postbulletin.com

Civil commitment proceedings have been initiated against a 19-year-old Rochester man accused of threatening to kill students at Studio Academy High School.

Olmsted District Judge Debra Jacobson has ordered Vearl Sylvester Hays II held in the Olmsted County jail pending a preliminary hearing on the commitment petition filed by the Olmsted County attorney's office. The petition alleges that Hays is mentally ill and a danger to himself and others, based on findings in a pre-petition screening and on police reports that led to the criminal charges. A full commitment hearing will be held March 3. The preliminary hearing was scheduled for today.

Hays was arrested last week and charged with making terroristic threats. He was a senior at Studio Academy, where expulsion proceedings have been started, according to court documents. Studio Academy, which has about 130 students, is a charter school that focuses on the arts.

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The allegations are that Hays began making threats against students last fall. According to the criminal complaint, Hays admitted to officers he had made statements about killing students on the last day of school and had posted the threats as kind of a chain letter on the Internet. He denied taking any concrete steps toward carrying out his threats.

Police were called by school administrators after they learned of the threats.

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