El Centro police have arrested a 16-year-old Central Union High School student this morning following a threat made on social media to bring a rifle to the school today.
A teacher saw the message, and police were contacted after 11 p.m. regarding the potential threat to the high school. Investigators immediately notified school district employees who assisted with the investigation, and on-call detectives came in and worked on the case throughout the night with patrol staff, said El Centro Police Cmdr. Robert Sawyer.
The message appeared initially on Yik Yak, a social media application that allows people to post anonymously.
Police and Central Union High School District officials made the decision to close Central for the day around 4:30 a.m., according to Superintendent Bryan Thomason. Southwest and Desert Oasis high schools remained open.
"Yik Yak is a social media application that is believed by the users to be anonymous. However, through investigative techniques, we were able to locate the device and the location of the device when the threat was posted," Sawyer said.
The message written in all caps,"F**** Central I hate everybody that goes to that school. Tomorrow I'm gonna bring my dads hunting rifle and take some f****** out. I'm going to be famous for this s*** f*** everyone!!!" was posted on Yik Yak.
Around 10 a.m., police found the teen at his home and took him into custody. He will be booked into juvenile hall for felony violation of criminal threats.
"It appears at this time that there's no credibility to the threats as the student had no access to firearms and there were no firearms found in the house. His intent was for this to be a hoax. ... However, we don't take these things lightly. These things are very serious in nature," Sawyer said. "Because of the quick response from our detectives and the school staff we were able to postpone school and in an abundance of caution, cease school activities for the day."
Sawyer said the teen's parents were in full cooperation, and the company Yik Yak also assisted in providing information for the investigation. Another juvenile was questioned and released as part of the investigation.
The device the threat was made on was taken as evidence, and Homeland Security assisted with some of the forensic information.
"We've had a tremendous amount of success on this case in a very short amount of time because of the hard work and efforts of a number of individuals," Sawyer said.
At this time, there no indication of further threats occurring at any other schools in the Imperial Valley.
"Parents do need to be aware of what their children are using for social media sites, not just for instances like this but also because there are predators and bullies out there using these sites and exploiting them," Sawyer noted. "It's in everyone's best interest to monitor their children's actions on the Internet."