ESCONDIDO — An online message threatening a shooting at Escondido Charter High School prompted all four American Heritage Charter Schools to shut down today, Jan. 17.
The Escondido Police Department (EPD) has not tracked down the source of the message, and is continuing its investigation.
“We are confident our investigation will identify whoever sent this message,” said EPD’s Lt. Neal Griffin at a press conference this afternoon. “You have left a trail. We will follow it. It will lead to you.”
The EPD was notified Thursday afternoon of a message posted to a social media chat site that threatened a violent attack at Escondido Charter High School at 10:30 a.m. this morning, according to Griffin. The message said the event would include a “barrage of bullets” and a suicide.
EPD notified school officials who decided to close the high school along with the three other American Heritage Charter Schools in Escondido for the entire day.
Security was heightened at the campuses and no violent or criminal events have occurred.
Griffin stated that investigators believe that the security threat has passed.
The message attributed the threat to a minor who lives in Escondido but does not go to the charter high school.
EPD’s interview of the juvenile and other evidence revealed that the child had been framed and was the victim of identity theft.
Law enforcement has not currently identified a suspect who actually wrote the message.
Griffin stated that investigators believe that the threat came from a local source. He added that the investigation is closing in and the identity of the suspect is soon to be uncovered.
American Heritage Charter School’s approximately 1700 students and their parents were notified of the schools’ closures through recorded phone calls as well as the schools’ website and Facebook account.
The schools will be open and resume classes on Tuesday, Jan. 21 after the holiday. American Heritage Charter Schools will be hosting a public information meeting about the incident for students and parents on Monday, Jan. 20 at 4 p.m in the schools’ theater.
The schools’ executive director, Dennis Snyder, stated at the meeting that schools will proceed as normal and that the campuses are secure.
Enhanced police presence will continue around the campuses for the next few days.
County law enforcement and the FBI are contributing to the investigation.
Anyone with information is encouraged to contact the EPD via their website at https://police.escondido.org or tip line at 760-743-8477.