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Unsubstantiated Shooting Threats Prompt Increased Police Presence At Local High Schools

The San Diego Unified School District Board of Education building is shown in this photo, Sept. 15, 2017.
Milan Kovacevic
The San Diego Unified School District Board of Education building is shown in this photo, Sept. 15, 2017.

Students and staffers at several San Diego-area intermediary and secondary schools went about their day amid heightened security Thursday due to unsubstantiated threats of campus violence, one of which led to a teenager's arrest.

The extra campus vigilance and law enforcement presence at Vista High School in the North County and at Madison High and nearby Innovation Middle School in San Diego were precautionary responses to threats that were not considered credible, authorities said.

School officials notified parents about the security measures Wednesday, a week after a Valentine's Day shooting spree left 17 people dead at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.


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

"I am calling to let you know that ... we were informed of a social media post and speculation of a possible school shooting (Thursday)," Barela said. "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."

The administrations of the two schools to the south issued similar alerts concerning unsubstantiated threats.

"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," Madison High Principal Richard Nash stated in a message to parents, adding that school police did not believe that the online comments represented any real hazard.


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

Early this afternoon, San Diego police detained a Torrey Pines High School freshman at his home to question him about threatening verbal and written statements he allegedly had made, SDPD public-affairs Officer Joshua Hodge said.

After interviewing the 14-year-old about the purported comments, which had led to his suspension from school on Wednesday, juvenile-services officers arrested him on suspicion of issuing criminal threats and took him to juvenile hall for booking.

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.

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The unsubstantiated threats were 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. 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 after a the discovery of a threatening graffiti scrawl at the Point Loma charter school.

Threats to schools have surged following the latest campus killing spree in Florida, according to school and police officials.

While most have turned out to be substantiated, at least one may not have been. 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.