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Southwest student arrested for alleged threats as rumors are taken seriously

March 08, 2001|By LAURA MACKENZIE, Staff Writer

El Centro police and Central Union High School District officials are not taking chances following threats and rumors of planned shootings that have been reported this week.

Police this week are patrolling both inside the grounds and outside the three district campuses, and El Centro police Lt. Paul Longoria said officers likely will continue to do so next week.

That action has come as a 16-year-old Southwest High School student was arrested Tuesday for allegedly threatening a school administrator.

That student, whose identity was not released, was booked into county juvenile hall on suspicion of making terrorist threats.

Information on whether that student remained in custody was unavailable this morning.

While Longoria alleged the student threatened the administrator with violence, he declined to give details about the specific threat. He did say the student was reportedly upset because of the student's own poor work performance.

"We take a very proactive approach to these threats," Longoria said.

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"Kids don't understand that even joking about this matter can lead to being documented as a suspect, a permanent juvenile record, and a possible arrest," Longoria said.

Along with the arrest, Central Union High School District officials said they were concerned about a tip they received from an anonymous caller that a shooting might take place at Central High.

"We take nothing for granted," said district Superintendent Dick Fragale.

Although nothing materialized of the rumors, he said the administration called the El Centro police who sent two officers to the campus.

Classes remained on the normal daily schedule.

Fragale noted that the Police Department has an officer designated to the school district, and there are at least three probation officers on the campuses during a normal school day.

In a letter to be read by the staff to all students, Fragale reported Wednesday's events. The letter encouraged "anyone who hears comments of a threat to take the comments seriously, and report the information to the school administration or staff immediately."

Longoria said it is important to note that police take threats seriously, and are not just reacting to the fact there was a school shooting in Santee earlier this week.

Staff Writer Laura MacKenzie can be reached at 337-3442.

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