Teen Arrested for Alleged Online Threats Against Schools

By Sarah Le, Epoch Times

A 15-year-old was arrested Sunday for allegedly posting threats on social media of a mass shooting involving high school students in the Santa Clarita Valley, about 30 miles north of Los Angeles, said the LA County Sheriff’s Department.

The posts were uploaded to the photo-sharing site Instagram on Saturday night and included pictures of assault rifles and dead bodies. The captions claimed there would be a “huge” shooting in the near future and that Valencia High School would be attacked first.

Other posts contained racist and sexist content.

At least 100 residents from Santa Clarita Valley called the Sheriff’s Department to report the threats. The posts have since been taken offline. 

Epoch Times Photo
An unknown concerned LA County resident took this screen-capture of the alleged suspect’s threatening social media post on Aug. 16 and asked people to share and spread the word via Facebook. (Swear words and third-party usernames have been blacked out by Epoch Times Staff)

On Monday, some students at Valencia High School didn’t show up for school.

“A few of my friends where I live, they’re twins, and their mom said they couldn’t go to school, because she didn’t want anything to happen to them,” said Kashmyr Smeke, a 9th-Grader at Valencia High School.

Kashmyr said his mother wasn’t sure he should go to school either, but he convinced her everything would be fine.

Some concerned parents came to the school office and demanded to know what precautions had been taken.

A spokesperson for the William S. Hart Union High School District, which includes Valencia High School, said that in addition to the officers that are normally on duty, there were extra deputies from the Sheriff’s Department at the district’s schools.

“We encourage parents to talk to us, to talk to administrators at the school site and talk to law enforcement and feel comforted to know that their kids are safe at school,” said Gail Pinsker, Public Relations Officer for the school district. “They need to be here to learn and to start off the semester with high attendance.”

The LA County Sheriff’s Department said they believe the threat to have been a hoax and that the suspect acted alone. No firearms were located at the student’s house, and the photos that were posted on Instagram were found to be stock photos from the Internet.

However, under California law, such a threat is considered a felony.

“A felony-level charge can carry substantial jail time,” said Josh Dubin, a Deputy Sheriff from the Santa Clarity Valley Sheriff Station. We want people to know that threats, even made on social media, are serious business. Right now is a great time to dialogue with your children and your young people about the powers of social media, the worldwide effects of it.”

Some parents of students were also worried about other social media users who “liked” the threatening posts. When asked about these users, the Sheriff’s Department said they are looking into it.

The detained teen was turned over to the LA County Probation Department, which is responsible for housing juvenile suspects. His name was not released due to his age.

Follow Sarah on Twitter: @dadasarahle