LANCASTER — Lancaster Sheriff’s Station detectives investigated three unrelated threats at Lancaster and Quartz Hill high schools on Tuesday that resulted in the arrest of one student, authorities said.
The first occurred when a 15-year-old male Quartz Hill High School student made a questionable statement aloud while in class. A second student who heard the comment interpreted it as a threat and posted about the comment on social media. Quartz Hill High administrators learned about the social media post and immediately notified Lancaster Sheriff’s Station. During their investigation, Lancaster station detectives identified all parties involved and, due to the fact that the student who posted on social media felt threatened by the comment, the 15-year-old student was arrested for making felony criminal threats.
The student was transported to Eastlake Juvenile Hall with no bail. As of Wednesday morning the incident is considered resolved and there are no further threats to the school from the student, according to Ali Villalobos of the Lancaster Sheriff’s Station.
Earlier in the day on Tuesday, unrelated to the Quartz Hill High incident, a group of Lancaster High School students got into a disagreement on their way home from school. One of the students, a male juvenile, lifted his shirt, exposed his waistband and referenced a weapon. Accounts from the numerous students at the scene have varied, some saying they believe they saw “something” and some saying they saw “nothing.”
The student who made the physical gesture was identified after school officials were notified and detectives have been in contact with the student and his parents. No weapon was ever located and the matter is pending.
Also at Lancaster High on Tuesday afternoon, a video circulated on social media with claims that a male student had simulated a gun with his finger and thumb while in school. Again, as in the previous incidents, students began sharing the video via numerous social platforms. Deputies identified the student in the video and made contact with the student and his parents. At this time, there is no evidence that substantiates a threat to the school or any other students, according to Villalobos.
Sheriff’s officials urged parents to remind their children to contact an adult as soon as the incident occurs, rather than post about it online. That way the threat can be addressed immediately, and it can prevent incidents from being sensationalized without merit, Villalobos said.
“Our deputies must treat every threat as real. This is significantly exhausting our resources. Every threat, whether it be verbal or on social media is taken seriously and will be investigated. The resources it requires to fully investigate each individual threat is overwhelming, however it must be done. We take this time to remind parents to speak to their student of the serious consequences of their words. Not only can a student face criminal charges, there is also the potential for civil and financial consequences,” Villalobos said.
Villalobos added, “Finally, we ask for patience. While Lancaster Sheriff’s Station prides ourselves on being transparent and getting information out to our residents quickly, it would be irresponsible to get out information that is wrong or violates an innocent person’s privacy. Often times we will post a “we are aware” message to qualm the fears of parents as best as we can. However, releasing further information could not only jeopardize our investigation, it could potentially give a copycat information, opportunity and means to follow through with a horrendous act.”
On Wednesday morning, Palmdale High School administrators sent a notice to families after they became aware of a social media post warning students to stay home from school due to a possible threat.
“This message was immediately reported to all school officials, security personnel and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, and an investigation is taking place. While the message did not identify Palmdale High School as being the site receiving a direct threat, we will ensure that we have heightened security throughout campus out of an abundance of caution. Safety and security remain our top priority, and school will remain open today with normal class schedules and activities,” the notice said.
Antelope Valley Union High School District officials sent the following message to all District families Wednesday morning:
“As you may be aware, there have been multiple anonymous social media post circulating online encouraging families to keep their students home from school due to a vague statement of a school shooting. In addition, posts were made specific to Lancaster, Quartz Hill, and Palmdale High Schools. Every threat whether it be verbal or on social media is taken seriously by our staff and investigated immediately and thoroughly. At this time, there are no credible threats against any of our campuses.” District officials said.
According to the District’s statement, Lancaster Sheriff’s Station investigations determined that a majority of the threats were made by students as a joke or prank. The District urged parents to talk to their students about the serious consequences of such actions.
“Regardless of their intention, these threats are unlawful, subject to school discipline and criminal prosecution. It is important that our students understand that thoroughly. In an abundance of caution, we have implemented heightened security measures on all district campuses,” the statement said.
Anyone with information about this incident is encouraged to contact the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Lancaster Station at 661-948-8466. If you prefer to provide information anonymously, you may call “Crime Stoppers” by dialing (800) 222-TIPS (8477).