Student threatens to 'shoot up' high school in Palo Alto

PALO ALTO, Calif. (KGO) -- A 14-year-old student was taken into custody after making threats to "shoot up" Gunn High School on Thursday, according to police.

"Even though this one was deemed unfounded, and really we believe the student didn't have the intention of carrying it out, we certainly have to take each and every one of them seriously," said Sgt. Craig Lee with the Palo Alto Police Department.

On Thursday, around 6 p.m., the police department received a message via its Instagram account containing threats of violence against the school. Within three hours, police were able to identify and locate the sender, who turned out to be a Gunn High School student.

District officials are still trying to determine what sort of disciplinary action will be taken against the student. In a letter to the Gunn community, school officials referenced the PAUSD Promise, which reads in part: "...it is of the upmost importance to us to create a physical environment that promotes student and staff safety through established protocols and procedures."

The California Education Code for Student Discipline states that students can be suspended or expelled for making terroristic threats against school officials or school property, or both.

The student, who has not been identified, was located at his or her place of residence in Palo Alto. Police did not find any weapons at the property.

Community members were stunned by the threats, but are hopeful that this incident will remind others to be kind to one another.

"If you see somebody struggling, talk to them and say 'hey, how's it going?' rather than just ignoring it, and pushing it away, and then blaming guns as the problem," said Palo Alto resident Karinne Collinsworth. "It's more than that, it's a bigger story, it's a bigger picture."

Police say mass shooting threats have gone up across the country, following the recent tragedies in Gilroy, Dayton, and El Paso. Psychology experts say it's an important time to reflect.

"How can I contribute to making a more peaceful, compassionate, safe environment for everybody? I think we all have to ask ourselves that question, but we also have to acknowledge we live in tough times," said Dr. Thomas Plante, a psychology professor at Santa Clara University.

Detectives will be sending the case over to the Santa Clara County District Attorney's office to review for criminal charges.
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