AR-15 rifle found, student arrested after threat to South Los Angeles school

Sheriff's officials found a semiautomatic assault rifle with a high-capacity magazine, 100 rounds of ammunition, a "rudimentary hand-drawn map" of the school and a list of names of students and staff members at the student's home.
Sheriff's officials found a semiautomatic assault rifle with a high-capacity magazine, 100 rounds of ammunition, a "rudimentary hand-drawn map" of the school and a list of names of students and staff members at the student's home. PHOTO: AFP
Students gather at the entrance of Animo Mae Jemison Charter Middle School in Los Angeles, California on Nov 22, 2019.
Students gather at the entrance of Animo Mae Jemison Charter Middle School in Los Angeles, California on Nov 22, 2019.PHOTO: AFP

LOS ANGELES (TCA/DPA) - A 13-year-old student and an adult family member have been arrested in connection with a serious threat against a South Los Angeles middle school, and an AR-15 assault rifle and a list of targeted students have been seized, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department said on Friday (Nov 22).

The threat was made against Animo Mae Jemison Charter Middle School in Willowbrook, an independent charter school where Los Angeles School Police do not have a presence, Sheriff's Department spokesman Rudy Perez said.

Students reported to school administrators that the teen threatened to shoot classmates and staff on Friday, Sheriff Alex Villanueva said on Friday at a news conference.

Sheriff's officials served a search warrant at the student's home, where they found a semiautomatic assault rifle with a high-capacity magazine, 100 rounds of ammunition, a "rudimentary hand-drawn map" of the school and a list of names of students and staff members.

Officials did not elaborate on the role the student's family member played in the threat, but both were arrested on suspicion of making a criminal threat. The adult may face myriad weapons-related charges.

Earlier reports that the AR-15 rifle was a "ghost gun" were inaccurate. The rifle was not registered but did have a serial number, law enforcement officials said.

"We want to thank everyone involved because they all did the right thing," Villanueva said. "Because of that, we were able to prevent a possible tragedy today."

In a separate incident, a student at Pete Knight High School in Palmdale was arrested after reports that student also threatened to shoot classmates on Friday, Villanueva said. The teen had been involved in a fight on campus, resulting in the suspension of several students, including the suspect, who later posted threats and photos of a person holding a firearm, the sheriff said.

The two incidents are not connected, officials said, and the students who were arrested will not be identified because they are minors.

 
 
 

According to a statement from Green Dot Public Schools, which operates Animo Mae, students notified school staff on Thursday about a threat and they "moved quickly to ensure that no harm came to our students." "Our students did everything right by raising concerns with adults," the statement read.

The arrest comes a week after police and witnesses said a 16-year-old boy opened fire on his classmates at Saugus High School, spreading panic throughout the Santa Clarita campus and surrounding neighbourhoods. Two students died hours after the shooting in a hospital. Three others were wounded. The gunman, Nathaniel Berhow, shot himself during the rampage and died the following day.

The South L.A. threat is one of 36 school threats reported in L.A. County since the Saugus shooting, sheriff's officials said. On Friday morning, police increased patrols around Charter Oak High School in Covina after a threat to the school.

In Visalia, a Redwood High School student was arrested Thursday after he allegedly threatened to shoot a classmate, according to The Visalia Times-Delta. Police found the threat was not credible, and classes were held Friday.