A Connecticut teenager is facing two counts of third-degree computer crimes after he reportedly hacked his school’s database and changed a yearbook caption to an Adolf Hitler quote and altered another to include the name of one of the Boston Marathon bombers.
18-year-old Hollister Tryon, a graduate of Glastonbury High School, was arrested on July 9 after police said sometime before the publishing of his school’s yearbook in October 2020, he gained access to files containing yearbook quotes submitted by students and made several offensive edits.
The investigation launched in May after the school administrator became aware of the situation and told officials that nearly 300 books had already been distributed. The initial citation was discovered on May 21; the day books went out. Tryon entered a Hitler quote that the yearbook entry read to say was from George Floyd, the Black man killed by former Minneapolis cop Derek Chauvin on Memorial Day 2020. The quote read, “It is a quite special secret pleasure how the people around us fail to realize what is really happening to them.”
Another quote was changed to reference drugs and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who was convicted in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing that killed three people and left hundreds injured, including 17 who lost limbs.
Tryon admitted to his crimes, telling police that he chose the two students whose quotes he changed randomly from a list of nearly 50 usernames and passwords he had access to. However, the affidavit did not state where Tryon got the list.
The only thing Tryon divulged was that he was in a chat on the Discord social media platform on his home computer in mid-October when he was notified that the deadline to submit senior quotes had approached. While chatting with several other online users, they suggested that he make the edits. Court documents stated that people in the chat allegedly supplied the young man with quotes, and he randomly picked one and a student to attach it to.
One of the parents of the student who a quote was attached to had no qualms over the swift action taken.
“This was not just a high school prank,” Mary LaChance stated in an email to the Journal Inquirer. “This was an act of bullying that affected all students at the high school. I am impressed with how quickly they found the responsible person and brought charges.”
On Tuesday, the school Superintendent Alan B. Bookman announced that though they were initially looking at roughly $2,100 in damages to the books, the company agreed to correct the problem and rebind the yearbooks at no cost to the school.
In a letter to parents, the school apologized for the incident, stating, “We deeply regret not having caught the act of bigotry and vandalism before the yearbook was printed. We are examining and will revise our yearbook procedures for collection and reviewing future student submissions.” It continued, “There is no place for any of this anywhere in our school system,” officials said. “We recognize that racism and privilege exist in our society. As a district we have committed ourselves to examining our school system and our school culture and to dismantling any practices that support inequality, privilege, and racism.”
Tryon has since been released from jail on a $5,000 bond and is due in Manchester Superior Court on August 6, 2021.