A student was arrested this week after creating a hit list naming 33 students and teachers in a detailed mass shooting plot at Encore High School for the Arts in Hesperia, the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department announced Wednesday.
The student, who was not identified, had a list of names of people whom he identified as potential targets and “could have been shot at the school,” Sheriff John McMahon said at a news conference. The student, who is being held at High Desert Juvenile Detention Center, had limited access to firearms, he said.
“This threat all surrounded a shooting at the school that this student was going to be involved in,” he said.
Deputies also gathered information about explosives on campus, so sheriff’s bomb squad and police dogs searched the campus, at 16955 Lemon St., on Wednesday, and didn’t find anything.
The plot unfolded Saturday when a parent notified deputies of a potential threat at the charter school, McMahon said. Deputies began investigating the report and discovered the threats on social media.
By Sunday, deputies, working with school officials, identified and interviewed the student, he said. But at the time, deputies did not have enough information to arrest the student.
When school resumed the next morning, deputies and detectives went to the campus and continued interviewing students and staff about the potential threat. On Tuesday, deputies obtained a warrant and searched the homes of the students’ parents. Deputies found firearms, which the sheriff said were legally registered.
“Our deputies discovered information that supported those threats,” McMahon said.
The student, who did not attend classes this week, was arrested Tuesday evening. The teen’s parents, he said, are cooperating with the investigation.
“The information we have at this point is he was the lone suspect in this plot,” the sheriff said.
Detectives discovered the student’s motive for the planned attack, but McMahon declined to provide details because he feared it could damage the pending criminal case.
The student will not be allowed to return to campus, according to Denise Griffin, the school’s CEO and co-founder.
“One of the things that everyone should take from this investigation is that it is important for students, parents and staff to always remember that if you hear something, you should say something,” school officials said in a letter to parents.
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