El Centro, CA High School: Potential Spree Killer Caught?


“El Centro police have arrested a 16-year-old Central Union High School student this morning following a threat made on social media to bring a rifle to the school today,” ivpressonline.com reports. “A teacher saw the message, and police were contacted after 11 p.m. regarding the potential threat to the high school. Investigators immediately notified school district employees who assisted with the investigation, and on-call detectives came in and worked on the case throughout the night with patrol staff, said El Centro Police Cmdr. Robert Sawyer.” No joke folks. The message posted on the [supposedly] anonymous Yik-Yak social media app read as follows (F bombs ahead) . . .


Despite the late hour of the heads-up, school was suspended for the following day; the suspect was taken into custody at 10am local time yesterday. Cmdr. Sawyer reckons the the threat was a hoax.

“It appears at this time that there’s no credibility to the threats as the student had no access to firearms and there were no firearms found in the house. His intent was for this to be a hoax. … However, we don’t take these things lightly. These things are very serious in nature,” Sawyer said. “Because of the quick response from our detectives and the school staff we were able to postpone school and in an abundance of caution, cease school activities for the day.”

Result. And yet, one can’t help but wonder why the cops figured the absence of firearms in the teen’s home was proof positive he meant no harm.


  1. avatar Andy says:

    This is why we need to ban children.

    1. avatar Jeremy S says:

      Yes. Do it for the children!

      1. avatar Robert W. says:

        That’s a strong negative feedback-loop if I ever did see one.

        1. avatar Wood says:

          Wait until his dad sees the bill…

  2. avatar BDub says:

    “And yet, one can’t help but wonder why the cops figured the absence of firearms in the teen’s home was proof positive he meant no harm.”

    Because its the firearms that do the killing, not the person. /sarc

  3. avatar Fuque says:

    Oh yeah… we amp up the fear, outrage and sensationalism of school shootings, and expect the children not to capitalize on it?… what pissed off kid isn’t gonna use school shootings as a weapon or threat??

    1. avatar Jonathan - Houston says:

      The principle of crying wolf predates Yik Yak, the Internet, and the last twenty years of school shootings. It even predates the story “The Boy Who Cried Wolf.”

      Bored, Angst-ridden jack wagons are going to capitalize on whatever’s out there, regardless of whatever’s out there.

      There may be better or worse ways both we and the media might approach these topics, but the potential impact on jack wagons probably doesn’t warrant more than middling priority.

      1. avatar PeterZ in West Tennessee says:

        This goes way further back than 20 years. When I was in HS in the late 60’s it was phoning in a bomb threat from a pay phone during finals.

    2. avatar Drew says:

      What pissed off kid… Well lots and lots and lots of them for sure. I dare say almost all of them but your point is stil valid, it even extends to adults and regular criminal behavior too.

  4. avatar kevin b says:

    “It appears at this time that there’s no credibility…”

    “at this time” is one of those funny cop-talk phrases. No one else talks like that.

    1. avatar Barstow Cowboy says:

      It’s funny because it’s true!!! Also, I love reading reports where every sentence begins with, “I, officer (officer’s name)….”, as if the reader might get confused about whether or not all the sentences in the report were written by the same officer.

      1. avatar Hannibal says:

        It’s so that the lawyers, district attorneys and judge can know who wrote the report from the first line of the narrative portion.

        1. avatar Barstow Cowboy says:

          I understand starting the first sentence with your name in it, but I’m talking about stuff I’ve read all on the same incident statement where the writer begins multiple sentences that way.

  5. avatar MoveableDO says:

    I don’t get the gist of this article… Is this a slam on the reaction of the teacher/school district/police department? I’m not sure that this was an overreaction or that there was anything wrong with how this played out. Kids–any humans, really–cannot be allowed to make terroristic threats against society. Whether or not they have the means–in this case, the guns–to follow through does not matter. Good citizens don’t joke about this. It takes everything in me to not joke about guns or bombs at the airport, but you know what? I NEVER make that joke, that fake threat. I’m a good citizen.

    So, again, is this article slamming the reaction of the authorities?

    1. avatar General Zod says:

      Maybe slamming the faulty logic that presence of firearm equals threat, and lack of firearm equals no threat.

      1. avatar Hannibal says:

        Except it was a specific threat of what appears to be an imaginary firearm… seems like a fair indication of a hoax to me.

    2. avatar Drew says:

      No, I would say this case is simply notable in the rational actions and conclusion compared to the seemingly rising number of idiotic responses to non issues. That the last line was all that warranted criticism is remarkable. I anticipate that this kid will likely get off lighter than some of the others reported here like the dinosaur slayer.

  6. avatar CGinTX says:

    I’m wondering if this could be the next generation’s “SWATting” – get someone’s social media password, and log on as them and make a threat. The only challenge is to learn to cover your IP tracks, which for THIS generation of kids is probably going to be part of their world knowledge.

    1. Why cover up the IP when you can hack their computer from your computer and make the threat through their computer… using their IP…

  7. avatar damarius ilion says:

    Man, are police clueless or what…….

  8. avatar Barstow Cowboy says:

    I’m wondering what the teacher was doing looking at some kid’s social media postings late at night. Does the teacher do that for all the kids?

    1. avatar neiowa says:

      Looking for a date for Sat night. Duh!. No standards or morality allowed today.

      1. avatar Fuque says:

        That made me laugh..

    2. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

      Wondered the same thing.

    3. avatar Hannibal says:

      Would bet quite a bit another student saw it and dropped a dime.

  9. avatar Former Water Walker says:

    But but but it’s in all caps! Seriously OFWG here. What the hell is yik yak? BTW just because you don’t find a gun doesn’t mean no gun is available…this is a bizarre story.

    1. avatar Trill Wild Bill says:

      Yik Yak is the newest stupid craze that has the kids by the balls instead of actually learning in school. It is an app that allows you to post anonymous content (usually Twitter like messages) and receive up or down votes on it. The higher the votes, the higher it becomes on the list.

  10. avatar Ralph says:

    Two lessons to be learned. First, don’t make “terroristic threats,” unless you are an Imam or something. Second, nothing on the Internet is anonymous. Nothing.

    “‘Yik Yak is a social media application that is believed by the users to be anonymous. However, through investigative techniques, we were able to locate the device and the location of the device when the threat was posted,’ Sawyer said.”

    1. avatar Drew says:

      Locate the device AND the location of the device?!? I think the guy speaking here didn’t do the hard work of scouring the matrix.

      1. avatar meadowsr says:

        “locate the device”
        “the location of the device when the threat was posted”
        If you include the last phrase of the second part, it makes perfect sense.

  11. avatar Justinian says:

    My guess is there was a test scheduled that day…

    1. avatar Timmy! says:

      That is EXACTLY what I was thinking!

  12. avatar JoshuaS says:

    Maybe it was a hoax, maybe not. But at least he made a real threat and they acted accordingly

    Sometimes, as some of us know better than others, they have a headline like this and a kid that did nothing wrong is nailed to the wall. I know of one case where, as they arrested the kid and was interrogating him without allowing him counsel or contact with parents, went to his home and seized his computer (1984 model IBM, no internet capability), his BSA pocket knife and a hunting knife, but neither asked for, no found his dad’s handgun.. what makes it odder was the gun was bought from an FFL here in California and so, in theory, should have been registered (if bought after 1923). But there were no records… kid had a year plus process before being acquitted and advised by the judge to sue the school and police department for the travesty of justice

    So anyways, I have little sympathy when an actual threat is made, even if a hoax. It produces paranoia and the histrionic atmosphere that hurts others, leads to over reactions, zero tolerance, acting on hearsay.

  13. avatar 2hotel9 says:

    I am wondering if the kid arrested is the one who actually did it. It is far too easy to impersonate someone on social media, and with wifi being so widespread now ascertaining the location of a device is rather questionable, too. As CGinTX said, this could be the new “swatting”, especially with some thing with very open/nonexistent security measures.

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