2 arrested after social media threat against Costa Mesa’s Estancia High School
Two people have been arrested after a potential threat to Estancia High School in Costa Mesa was posted to social media, according to authorities.
Lenny Vega, 18, and a 17-year-old girl, both of Costa Mesa, were taken into custody on suspicion of making terrorist threats, the Costa Mesa Police Department said Tuesday.
The girl, whose name was not released because she is a minor, is a student at Estancia, but Vega is not.
As part of their investigation, police searched two homes and recovered a BB gun that was pictured in the Instagram post that was the subject of the investigation, but didn’t find any other firearms, according to department spokeswoman Roxi Fyad.
“In light of these arrests, there is no credible threat to Estancia High School,” the department wrote on Twitter.
Police received reports about the post about 11:10 p.m. Monday, the department said.
One posted picture showed a faceless person holding what appears to be a gun. It had text overlay saying, “Tell staff and police, this ain’t no joke.”
Another photo was of a featureless beige surface with the overlay “Sometimes you just gotta say [expletive] it and cause a mass shooting at Estancia Highschool [sic] on December 5th, 2019 at 11:35 AM.”
Vega and the girl are suspected of creating and circulating the post, Fyad said.
“Detectives immediately began to investigate the social media post,” the Police Department said in a statement at 7:45 a.m. Tuesday. “The CMPD school resource officer, school administrators and [Newport-Mesa Unified School District] personnel were made aware of the possible threat.”
The department said it would increase police presence at and around the campus on Placentia Avenue. School was in session Tuesday morning, and no instruction or other activities were interrupted, according to the district.
The district said it didn’t know whether there was an increase in absences at Estancia on Tuesday, though some social media users expressed concern about attending.
Estancia Principal Michael Halt said in a message posted on the school website Tuesday morning that “the district and law enforcement will immediately respond to all safety concerns, investigate and communicate accordingly. Our schools are safest when we work together as a team.”
City Councilwoman Arlis Reynolds, an Estancia alumna whose district includes the campus, said she learned about the potential threat Monday night.
“My first thought was, ‘No way; could this be real?’ But as we’ve seen, it sadly could be real,” she said. “So we absolutely took the threat seriously.”
The incident occurred less than three weeks after a deadly shooting at Saugus High School in Santa Clarita that left two students dead and three others wounded.
Reynolds praised the preparedness and professional responses of school officials and the Police Department, particularly acting Chief Bryan Glass. She also encouraged residents to sign up for Nixle, a platform the Police Department uses to send out alerts and information.
“It’s a scary thought, but we’re confident that the situation is neutralized and it wasn’t the threat it could have been,” Reynolds said. “Estancia is a very safe place for students to be, and probably a best case for everyone is that students get back to school and we kind of refocus on the day to day, maybe with a little extra kindness for each other.”
The stories shaping California
Get up to speed with our Essential California newsletter, sent six days a week.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.