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Teen’s threats stir Santa Clarita Valley

Canyon Country boy arrested after online posts threaten school shootings

Posted: August 18, 2014 2:00 a.m.
Updated: August 18, 2014 2:00 a.m.

This screenshot of the posts made by Instagram user "yaboyplank" shows a photo of several guns, including assault rifles, along with the caption making threats against SCV high school students.

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A 15-year-old Canyon Country boy was arrested Sunday morning on suspicion of posting threats against students online through Instagram, following a swift and overwhelming response by sheriff’s deputies to calls from “hundreds” of concerned parents, according to parents and local deputies.

Within 12 hours of the threats posted online, sheriff’s deputies worked with parents, school officials and officials at “various social media platforms” including Instagram, to make an arrest the day before the first full week back at school.

The suspect, who remains in custody today on felony threat charges, acted alone, had no weapons in his possession and had no real intent of carrying out acts of violence as allegedly threatened, Lt. John Roberts told reporters gathered at the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s station Sunday.

“Based on our investigation he acted alone,” Roberts said, promising a stepped-up presence by law enforcement at schools Monday morning.

One of the posts on Instagram, made by a user named yaboyplank shows a photo of several guns, including assault rifles.

The caption with the photo read: “To the people who live in the SCV area. There will be a huge (expletive) shooting soon and a lot of you (expletive)s are going to die. We are aiming our guns mostly at high school students so you pieces of (expletive) better be ready because blood will be shed and families will suffer. No mercy will be shown. Slow and painful deaths will happen on a very dreadful day. I must not tell you which day it will be, you will find out yourself. Get ready (expletive)s it’s time to die.”

A second posting by yaboyplank, illustrated with a photograph of an unspecified Valencia High School — a different school from the one in the SCV — reads: “Valencia High School has been nominated to be shot up first.”

And, a third posting by the same person, next to photos of blood-stained bodies, read: “Death makes the world go round. Can’t wait for every last one of you mindless people (expletive) die.”

Lt. Brenda Cambra, who heads the sheriff’s Detective Bureau, posted a message online, alerting the public to the threat and the investigation.

“Deputies responded and found that an Instagram post, threatening to shoot high school students on an unspecified date had been posted,” she wrote in a statement released Sunday morning. “Threats against women and racial threats were also included. The post included photos of guns, dead bodies and a school marquee for a ‘Valencia High School.’”

At about 9 a.m. Sunday, following a night of “extra deputies” called in to help with the investigation, deputies executed a search warrant at a residence in Canyon Country where they took a 15-year-old boy into custody, Lt. Tom Bryski told The Signal.

And, while the boy’s parents were shocked to learn of the alleged threats, they cooperated fully with deputies searching the boy’s home, Deputy Josh Dubin told reporters.

“At this time, we feel he acted alone,” Dubin said. “There was no actual intent to carry out the threats.

“No weapons were recovered, no weapons were in play,” Dubin said.

The boy, whose name was not disclosed, remains in the custody of Los Angeles County Probation officers, he said.

Response by parents
“Last night, at approximately 10 p.m., our deputies became aware of some posts on Instagram regarding threats made to local high school students and students in the Santa Clarita Valley,” Dubin said.

“We take this type of thing very seriously and immediately began an investigation,” he said. “Some of the detectives responded from home, off-duty, to immediately jump on this investigation.”

At least 25 concerned parents called the sheriff’s station. One woman said the response by parents was swift and overwhelming.

“There were hundreds of people on Facebook last night (Saturday),” said Dara McHenry, the mother to a Valencia sophomore. “We were texting each other all night.”

She said her heart was in her stomach when she saw the posts. “I was so freaked by this,” she said.
McHenry’s friend — also a mother of a 10th grade Valencia High School student — said: “He (the suspect) definitely called out Valencia.

“I can’t believe this is happening in our community,” she said.

Karin Tucker, a Santa Clarita Valley mother of four, said she was alerted to the posts by her eighth grade daughter.

“My daughter called me saying ‘Mom, I have something to show you.’”

When she told her daughter to wait a second, her daughter reportedly said: “No, you have to come right now. I have to show this to you right away.”

When Tucker stood in front of the computer screen staring at the images posted with the threats, she couldn’t believe what she was seeing, she said.

“It was all upper case,” she said about the words used in the threat. “It said there would be bloodshed, a lot of torture and a lot of bloodshed. It was so disturbing, the language he used.”

Tucker said she phoned the sheriff’s station right away only to find out other parents had already called.

“When I reported it, they (deputies) said they were already aware of it,” she said.

Until she received assurances Sunday of deputies promising to increase their presence as schools Monday, she was not going to send her kids to school.

“Education is important but my child’s safety is more important than school,” she said.

School response

School officials took immediate action Saturday night when they learned of the threats, said Gail Pinsker, spokeswoman for the William S. Hart Union High School District.

“We are so grateful for the quick actions by the sheriff’s station,” Pinsker told reporters. “Through their efforts, starting in the middle of the night when many of us were still asleep, they were already investigating this situation.”

Pinsker would say only that the suspect is a student at one of the schools within the Hart District.

“We have been assured we will have extra presence on all our campuses tomorrow,” she said.

“We will prosecute and there will be consequences for any student who pulls a prank like that,” she said. “We are all taking this very seriously.”

School counsellors will also be on hand, Pinsker said, for any student seeking psychological help.

Response from school officials was swift, she said.

“This morning, we became aware of a threat that was posted on social media made against our high schools,” Hart District Superintendent Rob Challinor said in a message sent to parents Sunday.

“We take threats of this nature very seriously and we are working closely with the LA County Sheriff’s Department,” he said in an email notification.

“Extra precautions will be taken to ensure the safety of our students and staff on all of our campuses, while this is being investigated,” he said. “We are looking forward to a day of student learning tomorrow, as we begin the first full week of the new school year.”

jholt@signalscv.com
661-287-5527
On Twitter
@jamesarthurholt

Comments

Phenics: Posted: August 18, 2014 2:17 a.m.

Thank goodness for quick action. That is a very dreadful, evil and scary thing. Terrible to think of. Kudos to all who did something about it. Thank you! Hopefully the kid is put into some kind of mental ward. Whether he had weapons or not what he does have is a sick mind and needs help.


ricketzz: Posted: August 18, 2014 9:24 a.m.

The kids who do this are reacting to mistreatment in school. I was probably 30 by the time I stopped wanting to destroy my high school and everyone in it. The social scene in schools is Byzantine and excruciatingly painful for anyone who stands out. Bullyism is the root of much mass murder.


17trillion: Posted: August 18, 2014 11:16 a.m.

Ricketzz, do you ever think before you vomit your words upon this forum? It's a rhetorical question....


NotSoAwesomeTown: Posted: August 18, 2014 11:54 a.m.

It's not a result of "bullyism". Bullying, or being left out, happens in every walk of life - high school, college, and even in the workforce. What this IS a result of is a lack of coping skills. Every parent has the duty to raise responsible young adults - but it's also their responsibility to teach young Johnny and Jane how to cope when they're not accepted, or when bullied by others. Likewise, they need to be taught not to act out as bullies in order to make them feel better about themselves. This idea that "everyone is a winner" (like these leagues that promote non-competition and everyone gets a trophy at the end of the season) is really damaging, leaving these kids feeling that this is the way life is going to be when they get older. Well, it isn't. And unless you have the skills to cope with what's going to come at you, you're going to end up unable to progress. Not everyone gets the trophy. Not everyone gets to be popular. Not everyone will be prom king. But you are treated the way you allow yourself to be treated. I'm not saying the victims of bullying "asked for it" - but perhaps if both the bullies and the victims were taught how to cope early on, a lot of this could be avoided later.


Bobs: Posted: August 18, 2014 12:06 p.m.

This is all based on the assumption "The kids who do this are reacting to mistreatment in school." By "kids who do this" do you mean shoot up schools, or threaten to shoot up schools?

In this particular case it has been reported in other rags that this was a kid who was trying to be funny for his friends. And he will pay dearly for that "joke" (if it's true)

Regrading bullying I agree with NotSoAwesome 100%


Bobs: Posted: August 18, 2014 12:10 p.m.

User Removed Comment.


Bobs: Posted: August 18, 2014 12:13 p.m.

deleted


Rocketeer: Posted: August 18, 2014 1:06 p.m.

Sounds like a lot of people got really hysterical about this. But the only thing that actually happened was one kid had his life ruined.

The number one, by far, cause of death for teenagers is automobile accident. Want to keep your kids safe? Worry less about what's being written online and more about whether they always wear a seatbelt and what/whose cars they're getting into.

This shows the causes/incidence of teenage mortality: http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db37.pdf
Page four of the report is highly applicable to this incident.

"Bullyism." Ricketzz sounds a little more like Crazy Uncle Joe Biden with each passing day.


chefgirl358: Posted: August 18, 2014 1:58 p.m.

Notsoawesometown, YES! I could not have said it any better. That is precisely the problem. Instead of babying kids and turning this whole generation into a bunch of wusses, they need to be prepared for how to deal with difficult people and situations in life. There will always be some sort of struggle, at school, home, work, etc. Always. People need to learn how to handle their own problems, period.


johnnyrock: Posted: August 18, 2014 2:32 p.m.

This kid just ruined his life by trying to be "funny" for his friends..wow!!! With all the school shootings going on, why would he do that? He is 15 and should know what would happen. Very sad, but very glad it didn't happen.


justamom: Posted: August 18, 2014 7:48 p.m.

Notsoawesometown nailed it.

Either way - it was not a funny joke. Do we know if the school already has taken action regarding this student? As in suspension and/or expulsion?


longdebbie12: Posted: August 19, 2014 12:09 a.m.

I think some of the worst "bullies" I have ever seen is the parents. I see people taking photos of overweight people at the gym and post on social media, people of Wal-Mart on Facebook, and stereotyping people who don't live in "Awesometown".
I feel we all need to take a good look in the mirror and really see how bad we talk about others. Our children are always listening to what we say, and we are all guilty of being bullies.
I agree with NOTSOAWESOMETOWN our kids need to learn to cope, but as grown ups we need to stop being so mean to each other!!!
Who cares if you are on left/right, white/black, gay/straight, man/woman, Christian/Muslim/Jewish or what ever religion you chose, we just need to stop judging and embrace how different we all are!


ricketzz: Posted: August 19, 2014 9:32 a.m.

Out entire corrupt system is wall to wall with richly rewarded bullies. Bullies make the best corporate CEOs and most lacking-in-empathy politicians. Rather than tolerate them or shun them we worship them, hence "bully-ism". A society that tolerates, no, reveres psychopaths cannot help but recall late stage Roman Decline.

I remember when y'all defended the locker room antics over at Hart High a few years back. Just a rite of passage; completely normal; how boys become men...
A significant number of us are trying to live humble and peaceful lives and popular acceptance of such perversion and of Wall Street grand larceny, etc., freaks the crap out of us.



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