SMHS Student Arrested After Text Threat Forces Campus Lockdown

Police officers secured all the entrances to San Marino High School early Monday morning after a student sent a threatening text message as a prank to a friend. The subject was arrested and later released the same day.  Photo by Mitch Lehman

A San Marino High School senior was arrested Monday morning after a text the student sent to a group of friends threatening extreme physical harm to one of the recipients was discovered by the FBI, causing a lockdown of San Marino High School.

The student, who is a minor, was arrested and released later Monday afternoon. The threat was reportedly intended as a prank among friends but mentioned shooting one of the recipients. In an apparent effort to disguise the source of the threat, the subject outlined a plan to “[come] to your school [Monday]” to follow through with the threat, apparently lending further credibility. One source said the text message was sent through an application that can disguise the identity of the sender.

San Marino Police Chief John Incontro said the FBI in Washington, D.C. received an anonymous tip about the text message last Sunday. By Monday morning, the FBI determined the source of the text message and informed the West Covina branch of the FBI, who Monday morning placed a call to Incontro at 6:20 a.m. Incontro initiated a conference call that included San Marino High School Principal Dr. Issaic Gates, Superintendent Loren Kleinrock and Assistant Superintendent Linda de la Torre, who at 6:45 a.m. agreed that the campus should be locked down.

Detectives from the San Marino Police Dept. were dispatched to interview the recipient and the apparent source of the threats. Officers also arrived at San Marino High School to search and secure the campus, which was occupied by students attending classes and activities during “zero hour,” a class period that runs from 7:00–7:54 a.m.

The subject—who is a juvenile—was arrested for making criminal threats shortly after 9:00 a.m. and was taken to a local juvenile facility.

“Apparently, someone at the FBI believed it was a serious enough to get involved,” Incontro added.

School Board President Lisa Link was contacted early in the morning and went immediately to the SMHS campus.

“The first and immediate goal was to secure the campus and confirm that all students, faculty and staff who were already on campus were in safe locations with access to food, water, and restrooms,” Link said. “Once there was a police presence protecting the various entry points on the campus, the next priority was communicating with faculty and staff who were on their way to work, and then with parents and students who were not yet on campus. While any inconvenience to parents’ and students’ schedules is not desirable, we appreciate the community’s understanding that the safety of our students on campus was the overriding priority.”

Incontro said 11 officers from the Pasadena, San Gabriel, Alhambra and South Pasadena Police Departments were dispatched to the campus and that the SMPD held over four officers from the overnight shift and called in another five officers and a sergeant to respond to the threat.

“Once we secured the campus, we focused on the investigative leads,” Incontro said. “Once we spoke to the victim and the subject, there was nothing to lead us to believe there was another threat at San Marino High School or any of the other campuses.”

Incontro also said that the subject was “very cooperative” when contacted by police.