Poway Student Planned School Shooting: Deputies

The 12-year-old student was detained after officials seized numerous rifles and handguns from his home

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    Chris Chan/ NBC 7 San Diego
    A 12-year-old student at Twin Peaks Middle School sent an email to a school administrator that outlined the student's plan to shoot his teacher and 23 students at the school, according to the San Diego County Sheriff's Department.

    A Poway student sent a threatening email over the weekend to a Twin Peaks Middle School administrator stating he planned to shoot a teacher and 23 fellow students at the school on Monday morning.

    Detectives from the San Diego County Sheriff's Department investigated the alleged shooting threat Saturday and found numerous rifles and handguns in the 12-year-old student's home.

    According to officials, the email threat -- which was sent to a school administrator Friday night -- made reference to 3,000 rounds of ammunition as well as numerous firearms in the planned shooting at the Poway middle school located at 14640 Tierra Bonita Rd.

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    NBC 7 spoke exclusively with the teacher referenced in the email. She wishes to remain anonymous to protect her safety.

    "I kept asking myself, `Why me?' Literally wracking my brain trying to figure out who it is," she said. 

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    Detectives worked with the Poway Unified School District and San Diego's Computer and Technology Crime High-Tech Response Team to identify the source of the email. CATCH is a taskforce of federal, state and local agencies that investigate technology related crimes.

    After identifying this particular Twin Peaks Middle School student as the source of the email, detectives served a search warrant at the boy's house and confiscated numerous rifles and handguns, as well as several computers.

    On Saturday at around 5:30 p.m., the 7th grade student was taken into custody and admitted to a local hospital for treatment and evaluation.

    Detectives believe the boy planned to act alone and say there is no evidence to suggest anyone else was involved in making the threats.

    In the wake of the December 14, 2012, Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Conn., where 20 children and six school staff members were fatally shot by suspect Adam Lanza, the 20-year-old son of a teacher, school and law officials are on high-alert.

    "This could really happen anytime, anywhere," the Poway teacher threatened in the email told NBC 7.

    NBC 7 reached out to Poway Unified School District superintendent John Collins for comment on this matter.

    Collins released the following statement first to NBC 7 Sunday morning:

    “Obviously, this situation is both saddening and disturbing. However, it is critical that all touched by this threat understand that the system worked,” said superintendent Collins.

    The superintendent also said school counselors and the district's Crisis Intervention Team would be available to speak to students and parents about this ordeal at the Twin Peaks Middle School campus on Monday.

    On Sunday, law enforcement and school officials held a press conference to address the shooting threat against Twin Peaks Middle School.

    At the press conference, Capt. Bill Donahue of the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department assigned to the Poway station spoke of the incident, including details about the student’s email threat and the weapons found in the boy’s family home.

    Capt. Donahue confirmed that a total of five rifles, three shotguns and three handguns were confiscated from the residence. He said the weapons were locked away when officials found them.

    “The student did not have access to the weapons. They were in the care and custody of the father,” explained Capt. Donahue.

    As for the student’s email threat to the school administrator, Capt. Donahue said the email specified how many students would be shot on campus and which types of weapon and ammunition would be used in the attack.

    The email also stated the time of the shooting and listed some specific locations on campus where the shooting would occur.

    Capt. Donahue said the email listed second period – which is around 9:30 a.m. – as the time of the shooting and said a total of 23 children would be shot.

    The student also listed the specific name of the teacher in the email, but Donahue said the email did not specifically identify any of the 23 student targets by name.

    Officials said they do not believe this incident is in any way related to recent bullying incidents reported at Twin Peaks.

    As for the student’s parents, Capt. Donahue said they were “shocked” and extremely upset over the situation. The student, Donahue said, was also “scared” when officials interviewed him.

    The captain said he could not disclose any further details on the student’s state of mind or what he told officials during that interview, as the investigation is pending.

    Capt. Donahue said the case will now be presented to the District Attorney’s office. The DA’s office will decide whether to pursue the suspect as a juvenile or adult.

    Poway Unified School District superintendent John Collins also spoke at Sunday’s press conference.

    He praised and thanked all officials involved for their immediate, quick response on this threat.

    “Following the protocols that the district and local law enforcement have established, each agency acted along with the district in full coordination to resolve the threat issue quickly, efficiently and without incident,” said Collins. “We would also like acknowledge the parents of the child, thanking them for their cooperation in what must be an extremely difficult situation regarding their child.”

    Collins said the incident has been disturbing for the teacher named in the email. He said the female teacher – whose name is not being released to protect her safety – doesn’t understand why this happened or why she was targeted by the student.

    Collins said Twin Peaks Middle School will hold classes as usual on Monday, but there will be extra security on campus, including assistance from the sheriff’s department.

    Capt. Donahue also had this message for students who may be contemplating copycat threats:

    “We take all threats very seriously as credible and valid threats. Don’t ruin your life or throw away over doing something stupid like sending an email threat or any type of threat at school.”

    The captain said students can report any threats of school violence by calling the Students Speaking Out tip line at (888) 580-8477.

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