A 14-year-old Santee student was arrested and booked into Juvenile Hall after allegedly threatening to kill a fellow student via text message, the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department confirmed Friday.
According to deputies, the principal of Cajon Park School located in at 10300 N. Magnolia St. called the Santee Sheriff’s Station on Thursday after a female student reported receiving an anonymous, threatening text message that said she would be killed at school.
A second female student also received a text message in reference to the first student’s killing which described a body being hidden somewhere, San Diego County Sheriff's Detective John Whiteman confirmed.
Sheriff’s detectives traced the source of the text threats to a 14-year-old male student at Cajon Park. Detectives took the teenager into custody without incident on Thursday.
Det. Whiteman says the teen did not have access to firearms and there is no indication anyone else was involved in making the threats.
This is the fifth incident in a string of recent threats of violence at local schools since early February.
On Feb. 9, authorities arrested a 12-year-old student who allegedly sent a threatening email to a Twin Peaks Middle School administrator stating he planned to shoot a teacher and 23 fellow students at the school on Feb. 11.
In that incident, numerous rifles and handguns were seized from the boy’s family home, but his parents insisted the pre-teen never had access to the firearms.
On Feb. 28, a 14-year-old freshman at Poway High School was arrested after allegedly threatening to bring guns to school and shoot another student.
Officials from the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department say these are tense times for schools in San Diego and across the nation.
Officials want to remind students, parents and school employees about the seriousness of making threats. Local officials say they will take action on any types of threats since student safety is top priority.
“It's not something to joke about and there is nothing funny about going to Juvenile Hall,” the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department stated in a release Friday. “Making a threat is a felony.”
"All threats are taken seriously. What we don't want to happen is that one time that we say, ‘You know what, it's a kid being a kid,’ to find out that kid is actually going to take steps,” Det. Whiteman told NBC 7. “We can’t take a chance.”
Local parents say they’re thankful for law enforcement’s swift action on this matter, but the idea of violent threats at their child’s school still leaves some parents feeling uneasy.
“That terrifies me. Terrifies me,” said parent Jae McCabe. “I think it is appropriate for him to be arrested, especially since Andy Williams did the shooting at Santana and he was about the same age.”
Father Doug Shea said law enforcement’s vigilance regarding school threats gives him some peace of mind.
“Knowing that things like that are going to be watched, and that his peers are going to be watched, kind of gives me some sort of security,” Shea told NBC 7.
Mother Tami Ferrari hopes teenagers begin to understand the seriousness associated with making these types of violent threats.
“If they're going to be sending these text messages about things that I don't even think they truly understand the depth of, maybe it's enough to scare them,” she added.
Det. Whiteman says parents also need to be proactive in this day and age – especially when it comes to what they’re children are texting, emailing or browsing for on their cell phones and computers.
“Kids have electronic devices. They have their own passwords. The parents need to get those passwords from the kids to check on them. See what they are doing. Make sure that the kids aren't giving information like this, or sending text messages like this,” he added.