Alleged Threat Leads to SMHS Lockdown, Youth’s Arrest

Photo by Zane Hill / OUTLOOK Police Chief John Incontro (right), shown with SMHS Principal Issaic Gates at a Monday news conference, applauded “the efforts of the school district and the teamwork we had” during a precautionary lockdown at the high school.
Photo by Zane Hill / OUTLOOK
Police Chief John Incontro (right), shown with SMHS Principal Issaic Gates at a Monday news conference, applauded “the efforts of the school district and the teamwork we had” during a precautionary lockdown at the high school.

San Marino High School was placed on lockdown for several hours Monday and local authorities arrested a teenage boy for allegedly texting a threat that was viewed by FBI investigators, who relayed the information to city police — setting off the tense response on campus.
Authorities said the suspect was arrested at his home around 9 a.m. on suspicion of criminal threats and destruction of evidence after San Marino officers interviewed him as well as the SMHS student who apparently was targeted by the alleged threat. The teen was released to his family Monday afternoon, and awaits a court appearance with location and date to be determined by the L.A. County district attorney’s office’s juvenile division.
Police Chief John Incontro said he planned to seek a search warrant for the suspect’s cellphone and its contents.
SMHS, which had been locked down around 6:45 a.m. Monday, shortly before zero period, was reopened for fourth-period classes at 11:14 a.m.
“We were able to resolve this in a very short period of time,” said Police Chief John Incontro at a news conference outside the school Monday morning.
He said his department received information about the texted threats around 5:45 a.m. Monday from the FBI’s West Covina field office. Investigators in Washington, D.C., had received the information from an anonymous source around 11 p.m. Eastern time on Sunday.
Incontro met with San Marino Unified School District officials and they agreed to lock down SMHS while local investigators did their work. Parents were notified to not bring their children to school, although some students already were on campus.
“There was a threat of doing significant harm,” he said. “The use of a firearm was not specifically mentioned.”
The school district dispelled social media rumors on Monday morning that there was an active shooter or the threat of one on the SMHS campus, and assured parents that the school was locked down as a precaution.
“I have to really applaud the efforts of the school district and the teamwork we had,” Incontro said.
He said Monday he could not get into the specifics of the alleged threats or discuss the events preceding them.
Incontro said the report to the FBI came by way of a third party who had seen an exchange of messages that included the alleged threats, and he urged that those who come across potential threats of violence on school campuses or against students use such avenues as the We Tip ([800] 782-7463) or Crime Stoppers ([800] 222-8477) hot lines if they don’t contact SMPD or the school district about it.
SMHS Principal Issaic Gates was on campus throughout the morning and joined Incontro during the news conference. At 10:30 a.m., he gave the go-ahead for students and teachers to return for classes.
“Our great counseling team is prepared with crisis protocols,” Gates added.
Assistant Superintendent Linda de la Torre and SMUSD board President Lisa Link also were on campus during the investigation. De la Torre said SMHS faculty and staff would be debriefed in the school’s career center before classes resumed, and added that South Pasadena Unified School District offered its counseling staff’s assistance to SMHS.
“It was disruptive,” De la Torre said of Monday morning’s upheaval, “but it’s better than some act of violence.”

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