Former student arrested in Torrey Pines threat that closed school

A threat of violence made by a former student against Torrey Pines High School prompted the campus to cancel classes and all school-related activities on Thursday, May 31. By Thursday afternoon, May 31, the San Diego Police Department had arrested the suspect, 21-year-old Kevin Gregory Matlak.

On Wednesday evening, May 30, around 9:45 p.m., Torrey Pines students reported that Matlak had allegedly made threats to Torrey Pines using the social media platform Instagram. These threats included the image of a firearm, an expressed desire to end his own life and the lives of others.

According to San Dieguito Union High School District Superintendent Eric Dill, San Diego Police informed school officials of the threat Thursday morning, May 31. As SDPD Northwestern Division began actively investigating the incident, the district made the decision “in an abundance of caution” to cancel school, notifying parents of the closure via text alert, e-mail, social media and phone calls. Some parents complained that the phone calls did not come until after school start time at 7:50 a.m., others reported not receiving the first email from Principal Rob Coppo that was sent at 6:38 a.m.

At approximately 1:05 p.m. Matlak was located at 3300 Fenelon Street. Matlak was arrested without incident and later booked in to San Diego County Central Jail for one count of 422 PC-Criminal Threats (Felony).

According to SD Police, Matlak was not in possession of a weapon at the time of arrest. Investigation into his access to weapons continues.

“The issue of school safety continues to be a local and national conversation. The fear we all feel at times like this is very real, so it is important for all of us to work together to help our students understand how to respond in times of stress,” wrote Principal Coppo in a message to parents. “We work with amazing families, and we have an incredible team of educators at TPHS to serve your students. When we all work together, we make our school and community a safer place.”

This latest incident was one of three threats to occur this school year. Two separate threats of violence on Feb. 22 and Feb. 23 were allegedly directed at Torrey Pines, resulting in two juveniles being arrested. In the first case, a 14-year-old TPHS freshman was taken into custody after allegedly making verbal and written threats. In the second case, a 17-year-old former TPHS student was arrested.

The campus endured a tragedy in May 2017 when a 15-year-old Torrey Pines student armed with a BB gun was fatally shot by San Diego police officers in the campus parking lot on an early weekend morning after he called 911. A suicide note was found in his pocket.

The district has taken several steps toward improving security at its campuses and a safety update is now a part of every school board meeting. In April, the board approved a firm to begin the design for perimeter fencing around Torrey Pines as well as San Dieguito High School Academy. The district has also set aside funds for surveillance cameras at Torrey Pines and will be adding the Raptor visitor management system at all district schools—it offers instant screening of all visitors to campus.

The district has a 24-hour anonymous reporting hotline through WE-TIP via phone (1-800-78-CRIME) and on the website (wetip.com). In addition, people can anonymously report on threats and other suspicious activity in schools by visiting studentsspeakingout.org.

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