Los Angeles student charged after threats to open fire at school days after Florida massacre
2 assault rifles and 90 high-capacity magazines found at 17-year-old's home, brother also charged
A 17-year-old student has been arrested after threatening to open fire at a California school, and his adult brother faces five charges after weapons were found in their home, authorities say.
Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell said Wednesday that a security officer at El Camino High School near Whittier overheard the teen "say that he was going to shoot up the school sometime in the next three weeks."
The threat came just two days after an attack at a Florida high school left 17 people dead.
Security officer Marino Chavez told reporters Wednesday that when he overheard the threat last week, he asked the student about it and the teen confirmed that he threatened a shooting within three weeks.
Student claimed threat was a joke
Chavez said the student said he was kidding and didn't mean it. But the guard informed administrators, who brought in the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.
The school reported the teen Friday, and McDonnell says deputies found two assault rifles and 90 high-capacity magazines at his home. One of the guns was registered to the teen's 28-year-old brother. The other wasn't registered, a felony in California.
McDonnell said the teen faces a charge of making criminal threats and the brother is accused of possession of an assault weapon and other violations.
McDonnell called Chavez a hero.
Robert Jacobsen, general counsel for the Norwalk-La Mirada Unified School District, said the teen didn't like a teacher's rule banning headphones in class but that school officials didn't have any other information about concerns regarding the student.
"They felt there was enough there that they should call law enforcement so they can investigate further," Jacobsen said. "In this day and age, we have to be proactive and make that report and go from there."
He said the safety of students and staff is the highest priority.
"Given shootings that happened in Florida, and we hear about quite a few of them, we're all looking to make sure we can prevent these concerns and find out what's going on," he said.
He declined to provide other details about the student, citing privacy issues.
Superintendent Hasmik Danielian said in a statement that "we responded quickly and effectively when we first learned about the potentially dangerous threat that was made by the student."
"We will remain vigilant in our efforts to make sure that we are doing everything possible when it comes to safety and security for our entire school community," she said.
The sheriff says school threats have been increasing since the shooting at the Florida high school last week.