New wave of school threats spurs heightened security

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SAN DIEGO -- Unsubstantiated threats against four San Diego-area public schools led to heightened police patrols at the campuses Friday, continuing a disturbing trend in the aftermath of last week's gun massacre at a Florida high school.

Menacing social media posts alluding to impending violence at San Diego High School in the East Village and San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts in Paradise Hills appeared Thursday and were highly similar to other recent bogus threats issued locally and across the country, said Maureen Magee, a spokeswoman for San Diego Unified School District.

At STEAM Academy at La Presa, a middle school in the Spring Valley area, a menacing message was found written in a restroom stall about 9 a.m., sheriff's Lt. Tom Seiver said. Though the graffiti threat -- referring to a shooting supposedly planned for Friday -- was not considered credible, deputies were sent to the Leland Street campus to provide an extra precautionary presence.

Additionally, staff at Ramona High School reported a possible security problem at the North County campus. Deputies investigated and determined that the potential threat -- involving a teen who told several fellow students not to come to school Friday morning because there was going to be a shooting -- was not credible, sheriff's Lt. Jerry Hartman said.

"The student was cooperative and said the threat was a hoax," Hartman said.

The security measures came a day after nearly identical anonymous threats led to heightened law enforcement presences at three other SDUSD schools -- Madison High, Innovation Middle School and Creative, Performing and Media Arts Middle School. Vista High School also was the subject of such a malicious social media post on Wednesday.

None of those threats was considered credible, but on Thursday San Diego police arrested a Torrey Pines High School freshman for allegedly claiming -- verbally and in writing -- that he planned to commit acts of violence at the Del Mar Heights Road campus.

Officers searched the boy's home, seizing electronic devices but finding no weapons, SDPD public-affairs Officer Joshua Hodge said. The suspect's name was withheld because he is a minor, and details on the nature of his alleged threatening statements were not made public.

On Thursday, Sheriff's deputies found out about comments posted online referencing threats to "SHS," thought by some residents to be a threat directed towards Santana High School. An investigation found no credible threats toward the school and the "SHS" threat was directed towards Springfield High School in Ohio. The message had been circulating on social media since Monday.

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. Though it turned out to be a reposted news story about a South Carolina teen arrested for making a threat at his campus, officials the local schools requested extra security on as a precaution on Tuesday.

That same day, there was also a heightened police presence at High Tech High Media Arts afterthee discovery of a threatening graffiti scrawl at the Point Loma charter school.

Threats against schools have surged since 17 people died during a Valentine's Day shooting rampage at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

While most have proven unsubstantiated, in the Los Angeles-area community of South Whittier, sheriff's deputies last week found a cache of guns at the home of a student who allegedly had been overheard saying he intended to carry out a shooting at the school.

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