Teen Planned To Slaughter 5 Of His Classmates & Perhaps Others, Police Say

An 18-year-old high school senior was on the brink of carrying out a shooting targeting at least five other students at Ontario Christian High School and was amassing a small arsenal in furtherance of that goal when he was arrested by the Ontario Police Department on February 10, according to the Ontario Police Department.
The Ontario Police Department on February 8 was informed by an Ontario Christian High School faculty member that a student had expressed concern Sebastian Bailey Villaseñor, 18 of Eastvale, was making extensive plans to shoot several students at their school. Ontario investigators at once initiated a clandestine survey of Villaseñor and his various activities, social interactions, such as they were, his social media accounts, his whereabouts by means of both physical surveillance and tracking of his cell phone, learning, according to Ontario Police Chief Michael Lorenz, that Villaseñor was “fixated on school shootings and had access to weapons.” Following a day-and-a-half of round-the-clock monitoring and further investigation which turned up that Villaseñor’s father owned several registered firearms, the Ontario Police Department’s investigative team obtained search warrants, including one for the Villaseñor residence, located at 7940 Tallow Tree Circle, in Eastvale.
Upon gaining access to internet searches Villaseñor had carried out along with other data contained on his communication devices, Lorenz said, it was determined the youth had “researched tactical supplies and was in the process of choosing a specific date to carry out the school shooting.”
Upon the serving of the search warrant at the Villaseñor home, a 5 bedroom, 3,201-square foot home located at a quiet cul-de-sac, Ontario Police found three handguns, seven rifles, a shotgun and more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition, according to Lorenz.
The police chief said Villaseñor had engaged in painstaking research and was choreographing a precisely calculated hit involving five specific individuals that could be effectuated within a strict timeframe and in a way that he could elude arrest or having to deal with the police response.
“He was so obsessed with our response times that he Google-mapped how far it would be from the Ontario Police Department for our response time to the school,” Lorenz emphasized.
“Villaseñor had every intention of carrying out a school shooting at Ontario Christian High School,” the chief said.
Without explaining how investigators knew, Lorenz stated that Villaseñor was neither a loner nor bullied but was challenged when it came to forming relationships or interacting with other students.
Lorenz had delved into other school massacres and how they had been carried out, including the February 14, 2018 shooting at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida and the April 20, 1999 shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado. There was reason to believe Villaseñor was militating to carry out his attack on the anniversary of one of those, most particularly April 20, which is also Adolf Hitler’s birthday, a personage in whom Villaseñor had expressed an interest.
Villaseñor may not have had plans for mayhem as grandiose as that of the Stoneman Douglas High School shooter, Nicholas Cruz, who killed 17, and himself survived, or the Columbine High assailants, Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris, who killed 12 and one teacher and then killed themselves. Villaseñor was focused in particular on five of his classmates, consisting of four girls and a boy with whom he had, for him, unsatisfactory interactions, according to investigators.
Furthermore, according to the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office, Villaseñor, a five foot, nine-inch-tall Hispanic male, disliked minorities and was hostile to homosexuals and, in particular, transsexuals.
According to investigators who had access to Villaseñor’s internet activity going back at least six months, he came by his anti-social attitudes on his own and had not been indoctrinated by any particular person or group.
Insofar as available records show, according to a faculty member at Ontario Christian High School, Villaseñor had not met with any major discipline as a student, such as suspension, removal from any specific class or expulsion.
According to an inventory of the weapons seized from the Villaseñor home, all of them were owned and properly licensed by his father, 56-year-old Jose Villaseñor.
Sebastian Villaseñor was arrested on February 10 on suspicion of having violated PC 422(A) – engaging in threats of violence.
He was charged, however, with far more serious crimes by prosecutors.
“On February 14, 2024, the San Bernardino County District Attorney ‘s Office charged Sebastian Villasenor (18) of Eastvale with multiple felony charges after a thorough investigation into a reported plan to carry out an active shooter attack at Ontario Christian High School,” the district attorney’s office stated in a press release. “Our office has filed the following charges against Defendant Villasenor:
One count of PC664/422 – Attempted Criminal Threats
Five Counts of PC664/187 – Attempted Murder.”
At his February 15 arraignment in Rancho Cucamonga Superior Court before Judge Arthur Benner II, Villaseñor was not present but appeared via video from where he is being held, at the West Valley Detention Center. The overwhelmed Villaseñor, who is being represented by the San Bernardino County Public Defender’s Office but has not had direct access to any attorney, did not make any cogent response to the charges lodged against him. Judge Benner entered not-guilty pleas on his behalf to five counts of attempted murder and one count of attempted criminal threats.
Villaseñor is being represented by the San Bernardino County Public Defender’s Office. The next hearing was scheduled for Feb. 20.
Judge Benner at this point indulged Supervising Deputy District Attorney Joe Gaetano in his assertions that Villaseñor had attempted to murder four young women and one young man, while attempting to threaten another young woman and that Villaseñor should continue to be held without bail. Villaseñor, Gaetano said, “poses a great danger to the community,”
Gaetano hinted that there were other possible victims being targeted by Villaseñor.
Those within the law enforcement community have demonized Villaseñor and lionized the unnamed student who came forward to tell a member of the Ontario Christian High School Faculty about Villaseñor’s designs.
“Thanks to the swift and thorough response of Ontario Police Department, and the bravery of the student who voiced concerns, tragedy was avoided and potentially lives were saved,” the district attorney’s office said in a statement. “Our office wants to remind everyone in our communities across San Bernardino County that active shooter threats are always considered serious, and if you see something, say something.”
Villaseñor, who has eclipsed his 18th birthday, is considered to be of the age of majority and his identity and multiple of his personal particulars have been publicly released, information that would not have been made available if he were still a minor. In addition to releasing his mug shot, the Ontario Police Department has made available various photographs of Villaseñor, the exact provenance of which – ranging from social media postings in public domain or ones contained in a private and nonpublic file – is uncertain. One of them, which appears to be a photo Villaseñor took of his image in a bathroom mirror shows him dressed in black clothing and wearing sunglasses, holding in one gloved hand the cellphone he used to snap the photo and in the other gloved hand what looks to be an automatic or semi-automatic assault rifle with a magazine engaged.
Judge Benner fell in line with the district attorney’s office’s narrative and Villaseñor remains jailed.
Legal professionals, however, say that based upon the known facts, the district attorney’s office has overcharged Villaseñor, which is borne out, they said, by the consideration that the police did not arrest him on attempted murder charges but on threats of violence.
“Based on what I have seen, we have a young man with some severe psychological challenges, and it is very fortunate he was stopped before he hurt anyone,” one lawyer said. “I don’t see any overt acts. This has been a well publicized case and we have learned more in two days then you see with many cases over the course of months. Unless there is more that is not being disclosed, there was no actual attempt on anyone’s life that I can see.”
According to several attorneys the Sentinel spoke with, attempted murder consists of a failed attempt at killing someone, involving physical action taken in which the explicit intent was to kill but which failed, such as a perpetrator shooting, stabbing or unleashing what could be deadly force upon someone, irrespective of whether the intended victim or victim is actually shot or stabbed or hit or not, where the target yet survives. Planning a murder does not suffice as attempted murder until such a plan is actuated, the lawyers related. In the early going of the case, the Sentinel was told, a judge, as in this case Judge Benner, may accede to the prosecution’s representations of sufficient evidence to support such allegations and may succumb to political pressure and prove at least initially reluctant to demur in such a situation where there is an indication of intended mayhem. Nevertheless, lawyers the Sentinel consulted with, including former prosecutors, said unless the prosecution provides evidence that Villaseñor engaged in physical action that potentially had deadly consequence, a so-called 995 motion will almost certainly result in a judge’s ruling that the case against Villaseñor is missing basic elements of attempted murder.
Moreover, that the weapons in question are ones owned by his father and were found on his father’s premises offers little basis for any sort of weapons case against the younger Villaseñor. That his son is over the age of 18 would also remove any possibility that the elder Villaseñor might be prosecuted for not having properly secured the firearms.
“I understand that the district attorney wants to stop heinous acts, which is commendable, but unless it can be established that this defendant took substantial and actual steps toward committing the crime of killing someone, the charges fall down,” one of those lawyers said. “Planning something is not acting. Realistically, what you have here, even if he harbored murderous intent, at best is engaging in criminal threats.”
Charging Villaseñor with five attempted murder counts might provide prosecutors with a strategy option of negotiating a plea short of a conviction at trial, but any bargaining of that sort done by a competent defense attorney representing the defendant, lawyers said, would result in a sharply reduced sentence, which would put Villaseñor back on the street in a relatively short period of time.
-Mark Gutglueck

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