A 14-year-old La Mesa Middle School student was arrested for allegedly making verbal and written death threats against students and teachers at his school, La Mesa police said Friday.
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The teen was arrested at his home by detectives and school resource officers at about 9:25 p.m. Thursday on suspicion of making criminal death threats against people at the school, located at 4200 Parks Ave., according to a police statement.
La Mesa police worked closely with the La Mesa-Spring Valley School District to ensure the safety and protection of the school's students and staff.
The investigation revealed that specific threat information was relayed to school staff, who contacted police in accordance with their school safety program. A police spokesman said no other suspects were involved in the threats.
"It was obviously very, very serious," said La Mesa police Capt. Dan Willis. "It's one thing to maybe say when you're angry which is bad enough 'Hey, I'm going to shoot up the school.' It's another thing to actually start planning who you're going to harm, how and why and when you're going to do it."
A family friend who did not want to be identified told 10News the teen was simply fed up with being bullied.
She said although he did make a threat in writing, it was a cry for help and he placed it in an anonymous anti-bullying box on campus.
Detectives were investigating possible bullying and harassment against the suspect.
"We had heard the suspect may have been harassed and bullied in the past," said Willis.
Bullying and harassment violate district policy and police officials asked witnesses or victims of the behavior to contact school staff.
La Mesa Middle School Principal Beth Thomas issued the following statement:
I'm very, very proud of the staff and students at La Mesa Middle School in the handling of this situation. The efforts of our community-both parents and staff-to teach our children about stepping forward and doing the right thing is why we were able to ensure the safety of our campus. On a daily basis, we teach our children about how "character counts" in their lives. I'm very grateful that the students and staff have built the kind of relationship and rapport where children know we will listen to and protect them.
Anyone with information on the case was asked to call the La Mesa Police Department at (619) 667-1400 or to contact Crime Stoppers anonymous tip line at (888) 580-8477 or online at sdcrimestoppers.com
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