Police investigators track down teen linked to Escondido school threat

Boy, 17, is Florida resident

ESCONDIDO, Calif. - A teenager suspected of threatening to open fire at an Escondido high school has been found 2,600 miles away.

According to Escondido police, a 17-year-old Florida boy is suspected of stealing the online identity of an Escondido teen and then using it to make a deadly online threat towards Escondido Charter High School.

On Jan. 16, police said they received calls regarding a threat -- specific to Escondido Charter High -- that was posted on the anonymous chat room platform Omegle. Police said some of the calls they received came from outside the state.

According to police, the person who posted the comment claimed they were going to shoot up the school and then commit suicide.

After learning of the threat, school officials informed parents and students, using email, their website, social media and automated phone messages.

The high school, along with four other charter schools under American Heritage Charter Schools, were closed for the day on Jan. 17, and Escondido police beefed up their patrols in the area. School resumed on Jan. 21.

After two months and multiple search warrants, investigators revealed they were able to identify the alleged cyber-bully as a Miami resident.

Police said the boy and an Escondido girl who does not attend Escondido Charter High were in the chat room when the boy took offense to something the girl had said.

According to police, the boy was able to gain enough information about the girl to steal her online identity.

Team 10 learned Escondido police detectives are in Miami and have interviewed the accused teen. As of early Wednesday evening, the boy has not been arrested or charged. Police told Team 10 the boy no longer has access to his computer.

Escondido police Lt. Neal Griffin said, "What we have is an absolutely innocent victim. She wound up having a cyber-relationship, nothing more than [a] chat room relationship, but with a person who decided he had been offended in some way, and lashed out with this message."

"It's a great educational message to our students. You think you can hide and do these types of things, but guess what, they're going to find you," said American Heritage Charter Schools Executive Director Dennis "Coach" Snyder.

Some parents told Team 10 that they hope the boy is punished for creating panic.

Police told Team 10 what the boy allegedly did is a felony and he could be charged in Miami federal court.

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