HESPERIA – A total of thirty-three students and staff from the Encore High School campus in the City of Hesperia were part of a “hit list” of those targeted in a possible school shooting. The information obtained by the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department from searches of two of the homes that the student lives in separately with each of his parents, Sheriff John McMahon said at the Wednesday evening press conference.
On Saturday, authorities received the report from an Encore High School parent, who relayed information regarding a potential threat. The threat was, according to sheriff’s officials, made on at least one social media site. Sheriff McMahon said that the student suspect was interviewed by authorities on Sunday but at that time there was not sufficient evidence to make an arrest. The student was not on campus on Monday, during which time detectives went to the school campus to interview students and staff about the threats.
The 14-year-old male student was arrested following the discovery of both a hit list and what sheriff’s officials describe as an elaborate plan to carry out an attack on the Encore High School campus. On Wednesday, Sheriff’s officials responded to the campus with bomb-sniffing dogs due to the use of bombs being mentioned in the plan.
Although the arrest was made for terrorist threats (also known as criminal threats) and attempted murder, there was no link to terror and no known attempt to commit a murder. “There is no connection to terror that we have been able to determine as a result of our investigation,” said McMahon. “The information we have at this point is he was the lone suspect in this plot, there is no information to suggest that he was working with any other students or anyone from outside.”
McMahon also stated that at least one of the homes that the teen lives in did have a legally registered weapon, which they say he had “limited access to”. Parents felt that they did not receive appropriate notification from the school and some felt that there should have been a higher level of security on campus. “We did not know anything until we got a phone call today, and it is heartbreaking that you are sending your kids to school and all of this is happening,” said Tammy Walker, an Encore High School parent. Walker also expressed that the campus was open for after school programs with no additional security at the open gate.
Sheriff’s officials said that all of the parents of the listed students have been notified and school officials said that the student will not be returning to the campus. “We just came from a parent meeting with about 200 parents there and the parents were very supportive,” said Denise Griffin, the CEO of Encore High School. “We did not know how serious the threat was until this morning.”
Griffin said that her son, who also attends the school, will not be missing any school due to this incident since they are sure that the student arrested is the sole suspect. She expressed the safety history of the school, which has been open for a total of 9 years with only 12 fights amongst student in those years. McMahon said that the case has been submitted to the San Bernardino District Attorney’s office for potential charges against the student. The teen remains at the High Desert Juvenile Detention and Assessment Center.
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