A Thousand Oaks middle school student was arrested late Tuesday after allegedly threatening classmates and compiling an online hit list, authorities said.
The boy reportedly told investigators it had been a bad joke.
Eight students at Redwood Middle School were named on the list, which was sent by the 13-year-old to a classmate's home computer, said Sheriff's Det. Steve Sagely, of the East Valley station. The classmate forwarded the message to several of the listed students, Sagely said.
The incident follows a series of threats against students at other Ventura County schools in recent weeks. On Wednesday officials at Redwood met with students and anxious parents.
"We took it very seriously and contacted the parents of the students and reassured them that we would do anything we could to keep their kids safe," Principal Tim Carpenter said.
Sheriff's deputies patrolled the school Wednesday.
Carpenter said he encourages students to come forward if they hear threats against classmates or others on campus. He also reminded them that in the aftermath of the fatal shooting at Santana High School in Santee, no threat will be treated as a joke.
Tuesday's arrest came after the suspect sent a 13-year-old girl an e-mail asking personal questions, Sagely said. When she didn't answer, he sent her a message indicating that girls at the school would be raped and boys killed if she didn't respond, Sagely said. In addition, he allegedly sent her a list of eight students targeted for harm.
The girl's parents called the Sheriff's Department.
Accompanied by his father, the boy arrived at the East Valley station about 10:30 p.m., where he was booked on suspicion of using an electronic device to make annoying or threatening communication, said Sheriff's Capt. Frank O'Hanlon.
"I think it was a combination of bad timing and the wrong kind of practical joke," O'Hanlon said. "He did it on the heels of a shooting. Everyone has heightened sensitivities."
Tuesday, hundreds of Rio Mesa High School students in Oxnard skipped classes after false rumors spread about a planned terrorist attack.
On March 7, a 14-year-old Camarillo High School student was arrested for allegedly threatening two teachers.