A 16-year-old boy was in custody Tuesday after allegedly compiling a “hit list” of fellow students whom he intended to shoot at NOVA Academy Charter School in Santa Ana, police said.
Officers detained the high school sophomore after receiving a call around 7 p.m. Monday from the school’s principal, who reported that the boy had described his intentions in emails sent to his ex-girlfriend, the Santa Ana Police Department said in a news release.
In the emails, the boy said “he was going to recruit other students to help him carry out the planned shooting,” according to the release. “He made no threats to the ex-girlfriend but mentioned that he was tired of being bullied.”
When officers contacted the boy, he provided the names of the students he intended to kill, police said.
“He made it clear that he would do whatever it took to get his mission accomplished,” said Santa Ana police Cpl. Anthony Bertagna.
The boy was taken into custody and placed at juvenile hall, where he remained Tuesday as the investigation continued.
An emergency restraining order was obtained on behalf of the ex-girlfriend and the school, and the families of students who may have been threatened were contacted by school officials and the Police Department, according to a statement issued by NOVA Academy.
“The student is … lawfully restrained from coming within 100 yards of our school address,” at 1010 West 17th Street (map), the statement said.
“We take threats seriously,” said Renee Lancaster, NOVA Academy’s executive director. “We want to be proactive. We’ve been trained. We want to make sure that our students and our staff are safe — it’s our number one priority.”
Armed guards will be at the campus from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m., Monday through Friday, until at least April 11, the beginning of the school’s spring break, officials said.
Joseph Romero, one of the charter school’s 400 students, said he “could not believe that that could actually happen here at NOVA, because this is a friendly community.”
Asked if he was comforted knowing that the boy was in custody, Romero replied: “At the moment, yes. But we don’t know how long he’s probably going to stay there, or if he still has this grudge against all these students on the hit list.”