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3 men, teen arrested for allegedly planning attack on Muslim community in upstate New York

The three men and a teen allegedly planned to attack the community of Islamberg. Police said they found 23 firearms and three improvised explosive devices.

Three men and a juvenile were arrested for allegedly plotting to attack Islamberg, a predominantly Muslim community in upstate New York.

Brian Colaneri, 20, Vincent Vetromile, 19, Andrew Crysel, 18, were arrested Friday along with a 16-year-old in connection to the alleged plot, police announced on Tuesday.

Image: Handout photo of Vetromile, Colaneri and Crysel, arrested after planning to bomb a Muslim community in upstate New York
Vincent Vetromile, 19, of Greece, New York, Brian Colaneri, 20, of Gates, New York and Andrew Crysel of East Rochester, New York, arrested after planning to bomb a Muslim community in upstate New York according to authorities.Greece New York Police Department / via Reuters

The 16-year-old boy was reported to police in Greece, New York, because he was allegedly showing a photo of a schoolmate who, he told others, looked "like the next school shooter."

Police then discovered after interviewing the boy that he was allegedly working with three men to attack Islamberg.

"The initial investigation was about the comment made by the student," Greece Police Chief Patrick D. Phelan said at a press conference Tuesday. "And then our investigation took us to this plot that we had no idea about."

Phelan told reporters that three improvised explosive devices in the shape of mason jars wrapped in duct tape were found at the home of the juvenile. The bombs are currently being examined by the FBI to see if they would have been capable of detonating.

Police also found 23 legally owned shotguns and rifles through search warrants. Some of the guns were owned by the suspects. Other of the firearms were owned by family members, but the suspects had access to them, Phelan said.

The adult men are each charged with three counts of criminal possession of a weapon in the first degree and one count of conspiracy in the fourth degree. Information about the 16 year old was not released by police due to his age.

Colaneri, Vetromile and Crysel were arraigned on Saturday, according to a criminal complaint document. It is unclear how they pleaded. NBC News was not able to immediately reach the district attorney or find out what lawyers may be representing the suspects.

Prosecutors are working with the U.S. Attorney's Office and may include additional federal charges later on.

Authorities did not release information on why the suspects allegedly wanted to attack Islamberg but said they had been planning for about a month. At least three of the four suspects knew each other from being in Boy Scouts together, Phelan said.

Stephen Hoitt, scout Executive and CEO of the Seneca Waterways Council, Boy Scouts of America said in a statement that "we were shocked and disturbed to learn about the allegations against these individuals” and that "upon learning of these reports we took immediate action to prohibit these individuals from any future participation in the Boy Scouts of America."

The organization said that several of the individuals were no longer registered with the Boy Scouts. A youth member was registered and was removed.

The 60-acre rural community of Islamberg was settled by followers of Pakistani cleric Sheikh Mubarik Gilani. The mostly African-American settlers first came to the area in the 1980s.

A news report in 2015 put the population at about 200 people and described the community as "small enclave of Muslim families living on shared land."