Deputies continue probe of Instagram gun threat at Rio Norte

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Investigators with the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station are today digging deeper into shooting threats allegedly made Monday by a seventh-grade student at Rio Norte Junior High School, a sheriff’s spokeswoman said Tuesday

On Monday, deputies responded to at least one report that a male seventh-grader at Rio Norte posted a threat on social media about bringing a gun to school.

Although sheriff’s deputies and school administrators concluded the threat was “non-credible,” they are gathering more information about the threat.

Deputies were not given the whole story about the incident, according to the mother of one Rio Norte student.

“This incident is being researched further, and additional investigation is being conducted by the school resource officer,” Shirley Miller, spokeswoman for the SCV Sheriff’s Station, said Tuesday.

The concerned mother, who was convinced that the seventh-grader’s threat was real and credible, kept her child from school Tuesday.  At least three other women kept their children from school, as well, she said.

“I received a call back from the deputy,” the concerned mother told The Signal Tuesday. “(The deputy) informed me that the school had not told him of (the seventh-grader’s) intentions, nor had it been shared that (threat-maker) was researching guns in English class,” the concerned mother said.

At least four students informed school officials of what they’d heard, she said.

“My daughter heard him,” the mother said. “(The alleged threat-maker) wanted to go and shoot up the school.”

The young suspect student also named a particular student he wanted to shoot, the mother said.

Also claimed by the mother but unconfirmed were reports a female student who allegedly saved the Snapchat image had her phone taken away from her by a school staffer.

“These omissions seem very purposeful,” the mother said, adding the deputy assigned to the case was expected to return to Rio Norte for further investigation Wednesday.

Rio Norte Principal Audrey Asplund referred all official comment about the incident to William S. Hart Union High School District spokesman Dave Caldwell.

On Tuesday, Asplund sent parents of Rio Norte students an update on the incident which, reads:

“Good Afternoon Rio Norte Parents and Students,

We want to provide an update regarding our email and The Signal article that was released yesterday. We have worked with the sheriff’s department in investigating rumors of a possible threat via social media regarding Rio Norte Junior High School. Since we received the information about the social media post, school administration and sheriff’s deputies have conducted an investigation for two days trying to distinguish rumors from facts. We have concluded that there is no evidence of a school threat and that inaccurate information was communicated regarding a social media post. There was no mention of school or a threat.  The post and the rumors that followed were taken seriously, and we have taken action to address the inappropriate post made by the student.”

The stir caused by Monday’s posting on social media is the latest in a series of recent threatening messages allegedly made by students in the SCV which have prompted a vigorous response by authorities.

On March 1, a 15-year-old boy was detained on suspicion he made criminal threats to “shoot up the school and students” at the Santa Clarita Valley International school.

Later on the same day, a 17-year-old boy was detained for having allegedly posted threats on social media towards West Ranch High School.

In both cases, school officials called the SCV Sheriff’s Station immediately to report the threats.

The boy in each case was later released to the custody of his parents.

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