An online threat of violence directed at Torrey Pines High School prompted a daylong closure of the Del Mar Heights campus Thursday and led to the arrest of a former student who allegedly caused the scare.
Kevin Gregory Matlak, 21, was taken into custody without incident in the 3300 block of Fenelon Street in Point Loma early Thursday afternoon, according to San Diego police, who did not disclose a suspected motive in the case.
Matlak allegedly made the menacing statements on Instagram.
“These threats included the image of a firearm (and) an expressed desire to end his own life and the lives of others,” SDPD Capt. Daryl Hoover said.
We have made an arrest in the Torrey Pines High School threat incident which had prompted the school to be shut down today. Thank you to everyone for your help with this case. pic.twitter.com/tHBRojwb9G
— San Diego Police Department (@SanDiegoPD) May 31, 2018
The suspect was not armed at the time of his arrest, according to Hoover.
“Investigation into his (potential) access to weapons continues,” the captain said.
Matlak was booked into county jail on suspicion of a felony count of making criminal threats. He was being held on $50,000 bail pending arraignment, tentatively scheduled for Monday afternoon.
Staffers at the Del Mar Heights Road campus got word about the threat Thursday morning from police, Principal Rob Coppo said in a statement on the school’s Facebook page.
“The threat included (a reference to) weapons and came from a former student,” Coppo said, without identifying the alleged perpetrator.
The threat came to light late Wednesday evening, according to Hoover, who also said the communication made reference to “the possible use of weapons.”
During a late-morning briefing at the SDPD’s Northwestern Division station, Hoover described such incidents as high-priority cases for his department.
“We will investigate threats … to the fullest extent, and if a crime has occurred, that person will be arrested,” Hoover told reporters.
School officials opted to close the campus “in an abundance of caution,” Coppo said in his online statement, which was posted just after 7 a.m. and advised parents to “keep your students home today.” The school also sent an email to parents alerting them to the decision, and calls to the campus’ main phone line were answered with a message announcing the closure.
Hoover noted that any and all references to school violence carry great weight amid the recent proliferation of campus shootings.
“In today’s times, the mere mention of a word or phrase could be alarming to others, even though the person may not have had any criminal intent,” the police captain told reporters.
The threat was at least the third made against the northern San Diego campus since the Feb. 14 shooting massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
A 16-year-old boy who was not a student at Torrey Pines High was taken into custody Feb. 23 for threatening a shooting there. His arrest came one day after a 14-year-old freshman at the campus was arrested for making menacing verbal and written statements.
Those arrests occurred amid an onslaught of threats and subsequent arrests at local schools following the Valentine’s Day school shooting on the East Coast, which left 17 people dead.
Just over a month after the Parkland shooting, interim San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan announced that nine juveniles had been arrested locally and charged in connection with 19 separate threats.
–City News Service