Police, Sheriff’s Detectives Act To Avert School Shootings In Barstow And Yuciapa

Fast action by law enforcement agencies in two disparate cities of the county may have foreclosed two high school shooting rampages, averting at each a scene like that which occurred at Saugus High School in Santa Clarita on Thursday, November 14, when 16-year-old Nathaniel Berhow killed two students and injured three before turning his gun on himself.
Barstow police served a search warrant at the home of a 13-year-old freshman at Barstow High after multiple individuals alerted them to an Instagram post he had made in which he threatened a school shooting over the weekend.
“The post stated that the subject was armed and implied that there was going to be a school shooting on Tuesday,” according to a Barstow Police Department press release.
The department was alerted to the danger late on Sunday. Officers on duty contacted detectives, who made a concerted effort to determine the provenance of the Instagram. Tracing a chain of posts, Detective Thomas Lewis reached a student at the high school who was able to identify who it was that had made the threatening posting.
A warrant was obtained that evening and Detective Lewis and  a team of officers served it at the home the boy shared with his parents at 3:10 a.m. Monday morning.
According to the department, “A search of the residence revealed no firearms and the detective and officers confirmed that the 13-year-old does not have access to any firearms.”
Nevertheless, an interview of the student confirmed that he was responsible for the Instagram message. He was taken into custody and booked at the High Desert Juvenile Detention Center on suspicion of making criminal threats.
The same day, school officials at Yucaipa High School were alerted to a threat of gun violence there.
“The entirety of the threat was a brief note written on a bathroom stall threatening to ‘shoot up’ the school tomorrow,” according to a statement put out by the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department that day. “A criminal investigation was launched and we have found no information to date to support that this threat is credible and do not know who wrote the message, or exactly when it was written.”
The next day, Tuesday November 19, a separate instance of graffiti was spotted on a wall in a boy’s restroom indicating someone was on the verge of carrying out the shooting at a specific time. In the same timeframe a student came forward to report that a 16-year-old student had armed himself. That student was not present at the school, it was determined. The school was placed on immediate lockdown, with deputies stationed around its perimeter. Detectives with the sheriff’s department, which functions in the capacity of the Yucaipa Police Department pursuant to the department’s contractual relationship with the city for the provision of law enforcement service, were dispatched to the home of the student identified as the one suspected of having made the threat. The deputies arrived at the student’s home at approximately 1:10 p.m.
The student, a sophomore, was found to be at his home and in possession of a loaded .22 caliber handgun. After disarming him, the deputies arrested him and transported him to Juvenile Hall, where he is being held on a charge of being a juvenile in possession of a firearm.
As of Wednesday, sheriff’s department investigators had not disclosed whether or not the student had previously brought the firearm on campus, and whether the threat to carry out the shooting was one he intended to make good on, and if so, what his motive was.
-Mark Gutglueck

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