Police have arrested a teenager who they say threatened a school in Menifee and was in possession of a ghost gun.
The 17-year-old allegedly said he planned to shoot up a school in a private group message on social media. The student did not mention a specific school by name, but officials confirmed the teen is a student at Heritage High School.
The teen is accused of causing fear in the final days of school, just before summer break.
“He made reference to shooting up a school and basically shooting kids,” said David Gutierrez of the Menifee Police Department.
Police identified the student accused of making the online threats and detectives served a search warrant at his home, where they arrested him and recovered a ghost gun, ammunition and brass knuckles.
Even though the threats did not make mention of any one school, parents and students told KTLA the threats left them feeling uneasy considering the sudden spike in gun violence in recent weeks.
“With so many threats going on overall at so many schools and districts, it’s really scary,” said Naki Smith, a parent of a student at Heritage.
One student told KTLA she was scared to go to school because she “didn’t know what was going to happen.” Another student said he did not want to return to school after hearing of the threats.
“Our kids are taking finals right now and they have to be here,” said Jeremy Wright, another parent. “It’s had me worried all day.”
Menifee police say the student was booked into a juvenile detention center and is facing several charges including possession of an unregistered firearm.
It’s one of several recent school threats in Southern California and the second threat to happen at a Menifee school in less than a week.
Last week, Hans Christensen Middle School was the subject of a threat. Menifee police said it turned out not to be a credible threat and a 13-year-old girl was arrested.
Police say now is the time for parents to re-evaluate their kids’ social media use and to check in with them constantly.
“Sometimes they feel like they want to empower their kids, give them some autonomy and not be an overbearing parent, but it’s not about that anymore,” said Gutierrez. “It’s about making sure you protect your kids from becoming involved in things they shouldn’t be involved in.”
The Perris Union High School District released a statement that read in part, “All threats of violence are taken seriously and we will continue to work diligently with our law enforcement partners to pursue any person of interest.”
School district officials also encouraged parents to take the time to talk with their kids and said mental health resources are available online.
Menifee police urge anyone who may witness suspicious activity like these online threats contact their non-emergency number at 951-677-4964.