Youth Arrested in Internet Threats to Kill 75 Students

TIMES STAFF WRITERS

Authorities Wednesday arrested a 15-year-old Van Nuys boy who allegedly posted threats in an Internet chat room that he would kill at least 75 classmates, Los Angeles police officials said.

Investigators arrested the 10th-grader at 11:30 a.m. at Birmingham High School, 1700 Haynes St. in Van Nuys, LAPD Deputy Chief Ronald Bergman said during a news conference at the department's Van Nuys Division. The boy, whose name was not released because he is a juvenile, was booked on suspicion of making a terrorist threat and was being held at Sylmar Juvenile Hall, police said.

"Everyone is taking this seriously with the things that have happened in other parts of the country. Hopefully we're going to put these individuals behind bars," Bergman said. "Most kids are going to say it's a joke--we need to press home that these are not jokes."

Detectives found no bombs or guns at the boy's house. "The parents of the individual were very cooperative," said LAPD Capt. Terry Hara. "The subject was very apologetic and said he was mistreated and had nowhere to go."

The boy allegedly posted the threat last Friday in an Internet chat room for high school students. He said he would shoot 75 people at the school next Monday.

"Those people punking me around are going to get it," police said he wrote.

The boy threatened to set bombs off at the school 10 minutes before lunchtime, police said. "He was going to shoot people in the quad by the cafeteria," said Bergman, referring to his posting.

Police began investigating the threat Monday after a parent whose child attends Birmingham noticed the threat while his child was using the computer.

Supt. Robert Collins said he was notified of the threat Monday and promptly told several law enforcement agencies.

"I'm deeply, deeply concerned about this," he said. "If this youngster is determined to be the source of the threat over the Internet, he won't be attending any Los Angeles Unified school again.

"We will be fully within our rights in terms of seeking expulsion," he said.

Investigators went to the service provider and traced the boy through his e-mail signature.

The boy's arrest comes after a rash of school-related shootings and threats.

On March 5, two were killed and 13 wounded at Santana High School in San Diego County. Police arrested a 15-year-old freshman.

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