Two teens arrested for threats leading to lockdowns at Torrey Pines High School and Canyon Crest Academy

A 16-year-old girl was arrested Nov. 21 in connection with a threat made against Canyon Crest Academy in Carmel Valley, one of two San Diego schools that were placed on lockdown because of threats.

The girl is not a student at the school and the threat does not appear to be related to a shooting threat at Torrey Pines High School, for which a 17- year-old boy was arrested, said Lt. Kevin Mayer of the San Diego Police Department.

The girl, who was tracked down through her IP address, is a Rancho Penasquitos resident who attends Westview High School and she made the threat as a joke, according to a broadcast report.

The Torrey Pines High School security emergency began shortly before 10:30 a.m. Thursday, when a parent contacted school officials to report hearing about the threat from her child.

The menacing post on the Yik Yak social networking site included a claim that a shooting would occur just before noon. Teachers kept students locked in their classrooms while officers went through the campus.

By mid-afternoon, authorities were allowing students to leave the school grounds under escort, SDPD spokesman Humberto Hernandez said.

The search of Torrey Pines High School was wrapping up when, shortly before 3 p.m., a staffer at nearby Canyon Crest Academy made an emergency call to report that someone had posted a menacing website message about a shooting there, as well.

The threat included a claim that an assailant was “on the way with three guns,” police said.

Administrators secured everyone inside rooms at the East Village Center Loop Road campus while police went over the grounds. Officers gave an all-clear about 3:45 p.m., according to Hernandez.

Later in the day, police arrested the boy — who does not attend Torrey Pines High — in connection with the first threat. Mayer announced the girl’s arrest Nov. 21.

During a news conference the morning of Nov. 21, Torrey Pines Principal David Jaffe warned anyone who might consider posting such frightening and disruptive messages online that he or she would pay a legal price.

“Social media is not anonymous ...,” Jaffe said. “You post something, you’re going to be held accountable for what it is that you post.’’

When asked for comment on the Nov. 20 threats and subsequent school actions, San Dieguito Union High School District Superintendent Rick Schmitt released the following statement:

“I am proud of our students and staff for how they handled all, especially proud of our students who took the threat seriously and did everything we asked of them at both schools. SDPD was incredible in their response, cooperation, communication, teamwork, access to technology and skill. I was also appreciative of parents’ understanding, patience and trust.

“Hopefully, teenagers and their parents realize that anonymous social media posts are not anonymous if you bully or threaten. Law enforcement has the tools, the right and the experience to catch those who make virtual threats.

“And finally, the ‘see something/say something’ approach to potential threats seems to be working. Both students and parents have been reporting potential threats to staff the past couple of years, which is a good thing. The ‘teenage code of silence’ has been replaced with an understanding of how to best keep all safe.”

When asked what students did during the lockdowns, Schmitt replied,

“Depending on the teacher...after they locked down with lockblocks, curtains, blinds etc., each class was handled differently. Some made popcorn, slept, socialized, watched TV, used social media, studied, read, some even continued with class until the end of the period at noon.

“Many students ended up in classes other than their own. If students were out on campus when the lockdown was announced, they ducked into the nearest classroom. When students and staff needed to use the restroom they called the office. We had administrators escort them to the restroom with dozens of police on campus.”

When asked for comment on the events of Nov. 20, Joyce Dalessandro, SDUHSD school board president, issued the following statement:

“Anonymity, invisibility, really doesn’t exist in our world any longer. Certainly it does not exist on social media. Parents and teachers work to instill this truth in our children. The lure of social media is strong, however, and sometimes trumps our best efforts.

“The internet presents a tempting vehicle for some kids to make poor choices. The vast majority of kids would never choose to post anything, anonymous or not, that is intended to hurt, frighten or threaten others. In fact most have learned, when coming across such postings, to share the information with a parent or teacher.

“In the end, we know that law enforcement has the power, authority and the technology to identify the anonymous when they are breaking the law. The response, cooperation, coordination, communication, and technological capabilities of the SDPD to the crisis at Torrey Pines High School and at Canyon Crest Academy continue to be worthy of the highest praise.”

When asked what the charges are against the two teens who have been arrested and what the potential penalties are related to those charges, Steve Walker, communications director for the San Diego County District Attorney, said in an email “As this is a juvenile case (juvenile court works much differently that adult court), it’s confidential and we’re not able to discuss it.”

A hearing held Nov. 25 for the accused teen in the TPHS case was closed, therefore media could not attend the hearing. Writers Marsha Sutton and Joe Tash contributed to this report.

By City News Service

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