Security boosted at 4 county schools because of shooting threats

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SAN DIEGO – School administrators requested increased law enforcement presence on at least five San Diego County school campuses Thursday due to unsubstantiated shooting threats.

Thursday afternoon, San Diego Police took a 14-year old into custody.

The boy, A Freshman at Torrey Pines High was questioned at his home around noon and then detained.  Investigators did not reveal what the threat was or where it was made.

Police said students at Torrey Pines high are safe and there is no actual threat.

Education officials in San Diego and Vista said none of the threats are credible but said they were being investigated and that extra security would be provided at the campuses "out of an abundance of caution'' following last week's deadly shooting in Parkland, Florida, which left 17 people dead at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Vista High School Principal Anthony Barela informed families of the threat in a phone message that was also posted online.

"I am calling to let you know that earlier today we were informed of a social media post and speculation of a possible school shooting tomorrow,'' Barela said in the message that went out Wednesday afternoon. "While there is no credibility to this threat and nothing to substantiate a threat to Vista High School, as a precaution there will be extra law enforcement on site tomorrow. Law enforcement is actively investigating this threat.''

Barela went on to say that while unsubstantiated, the threat is being taken "very seriously,'' and school officials have requested extra security on campus to ensure "safety for each and every one of our students.''

In addition, three schools in the San Diego Unified School District sent out similar messages Wednesday concerning unsubstantiated threats Thursday at Madison High School and nearby Innovation Middle School in Clairemont, district officials confirmed.

"In light of the events at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School last week, I want to communicate that we are actively investigating a potential threat to our campus that was posted on social media,'' wrote Principal Richard Nash in a message to parents at the school. "San Diego Unified School Police has been investigating this matter and does not feel there is a credible threat to our school.''

Nash assured parents that school officials take campus safety seriously and wrote that in an abundance of caution, "school police will have additional officers at the school first thing in the morning.''

Innovation Middle School Principal Nicola Labas sent out a similar message to families.

In addition, the Creative Performing Media Arts school at 5050 Conrad Ave. in San Diego also has increased security.

"It’s unfortunate, but it’s really shaking people," said Bob Mueller,  Executive Director of Student Programs and Services.

Muller works with the San Diego County Office of Education and oversees and advisess districts when it comes to training and emergency response.

He said often in the days following a mass shooting, threats are common.

 

"Most often those are jokes. I don’t know why people make jokes like that, but most often they’re not serious but, they raise concern," said Mueller.  "The average student has a 1 in 3 million chance of being killed in an active shooter event"

Mueller said in addition added security, all training now has an added focus on emergency response like active shooter situations.

"Locking down and barricading themselves into a secure location evaluating whether or not it’s better to run off campus and get away from the danger," said Mueller.

As for students who make the threats, consequences are severe.  Not only will they face punishment from the law, but also possibly suspension or expulsion with rehabilitation.

"If we simply punish and expel that child in the community still capable of a violent act," said Mueller.

The unsubstantiated threats are just the latest in a series of such incidents this week. On Monday, officials at San Marcos High School alerted parents to a social media posting that some students perceived as a shooting threat to the school. It ultimately turned out to be a reposted news story about a South Carolina teen arrested for making a threat at his high school, but San Marcos school officials requested extra campus security on Tuesday as a precaution.

On Tuesday, there was also a heightened police presence at High Tech High Media Arts after a the discovery of a threatening graffiti scrawl at the Point Loma charter school.

According to news reports, purported threats to schools have surged following the latest campus killing spree in Florida. While most of the threats have turned out to be unsubstantiated, at least one incident in Los Angeles County's South Whittier led sheriff's deputies last week to a cache of guns at the home of a student who was allegedly overheard saying he was going to shoot up the school within the next three weeks.