Eugene Brucker Education Center is headquarters of the San Diego Unified School District. Photo courtesy sandi.net

Unsubstantiated threats against four San Diego-area public schools led to heightened police patrols at the campuses Friday, continuing a disturbing trend in the aftermath of last week’s gun massacre at a Florida high school.

Social media posts alluding to shooting sprees supposedly in the offing at San Diego High School in the East Village and San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts in Paradise Hills appeared Thursday and were highly similar to other recent bogus threats issued locally and across the country, said Maureen Magee, a spokeswoman for San Diego Unified School District.

Meanwhile, at STEAM Academy at La Presa, a middle school in the Spring Valley area, a menacing massage was found written in a restroom stall about 9 a.m., sheriff’s Lt. Tom Seiver said. Though the graffiti threat — referring to a shooting supposedly planned for Friday — was not considered credible, deputies were sent to the Leland Street campus to provide an extra precautionary presence.

Additionally, staff at Ramona High School reported yet another episode involving intimations of campus gun violence. Deputies investigated and determined that the potential threat — in the form of a teen’s claim that fellow students should stay home from school Friday morning because there was going to be a shooting — was not credible, sheriff’s Lt. Jerry Hartman said.

“The student was cooperative and said the threat was a hoax,” Hartman said.

The security measures came a day after anonymous threats led to heightened law enforcement presences at three other SDUSD schools — Madison High, Innovation Middle School, and Creative, Performing and Media Arts Middle School. Vista High School also was the subject of a similar fear-mongering social media post on Wednesday.

None of those threats was considered credible. On Thursday, however, San Diego police arrested a Torrey Pines High School freshman for allegedly claiming — verbally and in writing — that he planned to commit acts of violence at the Del Mar Heights Road campus.

Officers searched the boy’s home, seizing electronic devices but finding no weapons, SDPD public-affairs Officer Joshua Hodge said. The suspect’s name was withheld because he is a minor, and details on the nature of his alleged threatening statements were not made public.

Campus police investigating this week’s threats against the four San Diego Unified School District campuses have identified a suspect, a seventh- grader who attends a SDUSD school, Magee said. The alleged perpetrator, whose name, age, gender and school were withheld, has been questioned but not arrested, the spokeswoman said.

According to district officials, the post stated, in part: “Biggest shooting in history on its way. San Diego’s on its way to join the trend. Be ready ha!” After tracking down and interviewing the suspect, school police determined that the threats were not credible.

“These types of comments are no joking matter, and they come with consequences,” SDUSD police Chief Michael Marquez said. “There are consequences in terms of student discipline, and there are consequences in terms of unnecessarily increasing anxiety and fear in the community.”

The case remains under investigation by district officials, who will consider whether to recommend criminal charges and determine disciplinary action, Magee said.

Officials at San Marcos High School alerted parents on Monday to a social media posting that some students perceived as a shooting threat to the school. Though it turned out to be a reposted news story about a South Carolina teen arrested for making a threat at his campus, officials the local schools requested extra security on as a precaution on Tuesday.

That same day, there was also a heightened police presence at High Tech High Media Arts after a the discovery of a threatening graffiti scrawl at the Point Loma charter school.

Threats against schools have surged since 17 people died during a Valentine’s Day shooting rampage at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

While most have proven unsubstantiated, in the Los Angeles-area community of South Whittier, sheriff’s deputies last week found a cache of guns at the home of a student who allegedly had been overheard saying he intended to carry out a shooting at the school.

–City News Service

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