Man suspected of threatening South Bay parish was a regular attendee

CHULA VISTA, Calif. -- Police have arrested a man suspected of making violent threats to St. Rose of Lima, a parish and parochial school in the South Bay where he was a regular attendee, officers said Wednesday.

Chula Vista Police had been investigating the threat since Tuesday, when a man called the church office and threatened to harm perishioners during an All Saints Day Mass scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 1. The church notified local police, who opened an investigation.

By late Wednesday morning, officers had arrested 61-year-old Thomas Escajeda on suspicion of making felony criminal threats. Investigators learned that Escajeda had actually attended the church regularly for over a year.

"His motives for the threat are not known at this time," CVPD Lt. Kenny Heinz said. Escajeda will be booked into San Diego County Jail on $100,000 bail.

The church and school campus are located in Chula Vista near the intersection of Third Avenue and H Street. The church said it now plans to reschedule the mass for Nov. 6.

Before news of the arrest was known, the Catholic Diocese decided to cancel classes at the K-8 school, as well.

"Growing up here, I never had to worry about stuff like this," Omar Godoy, the parent of a fifth grader at the school, told FOX 5. "It’s our new reality. As parents, we all have the responsibility to take good care of our children. Thankfully the administrators at the school took all the right measures and everything worked out."