Miami man arrested on suspicion of threatening Escondido schools

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SAN DIEGO — An 18-year-old Miami man was behind bars Wednesday in that southeastern Florida city on suspicion of masquerading online as another teenager while making an online mass-shooting threat that forced a daylong closure of four Escondido charter schools last year.

Fernando Morales will be prosecuted in his home state on charges of fraudulent use of personal identification and unlawful use of a two-way communication device, according to the Escondido Police Department.

On Jan. 16, 2014, Morales allegedly posed as an Escondido teenager on a social-media website and posted comments about “shooting up” Escondido Charter High School.

The menacing statements prompted administrators to cancel classes the next day at that campus and at three other affiliated American Heritage schools — Heritage K-8 Charter, Heritage Digital Academy Middle School and Heritage Digital Academy High School. All four reopened the following Tuesday, after the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend.

Detectives, meanwhile, questioned the youth named in the posting and promptly dismissed him as a suspect, determining that his computer had been hacked, police said.

Within weeks, investigators had identified Morales as the alleged source of the threat.

The suspect, who was arrested last week, “has no known connection to Escondido,” Lt. Eric Skaja said.

Authorities have released no suspected motive for the crime.

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