A 19-year-old former Gustine High School student who was previously convicted of threatening a school officer was arrested Friday after posting a photo of Florida school shooter Nikolas Cruz with comments investigators described as threatening, according to Gustine Police.
Gustine police were alerted at 11:45 a.m. to a Facebook post by the former student, who police identified as Joshua Rodriguez Delgado, Chief Milton Medeiros told the Sun-Star Friday. Officers said in a news release that Delgado had numerous prior contacts with the Gustine Police Department.
Police said the social media post contained a photo of Cruz with the comment "Imma be the next one to shoot up a place I don't like GHS," according to the release
Delgado was a former student at both Gustine High School and Pioneer High School, Gustine High Principal John Petrone said.
A female student told Petrone about the Facebook post Friday morning, he said. He alerted the school's resource officer and Gustine police while aggressively digging into social media to obtain a copy of the post with the help of the reporting student.
"I'm eternally grateful for (the student's) vigilance," Petrone said, adding that she will be commended for her efforts. A copy of the post was turned over to police.
The high school didn't go on lockdown Friday because the Facebook post didn't directly threaten the school Friday, Petrone said. School staff was notified of the post and put on a "heightened state of awareness."
But as a result of the threat, after-school practices were canceled for the day and a Gustine FFA rally planned for the afternoon was rescheduled to Feb. 26, Petrone said.
Gustine School Resource Officer Eric Warner and Gustine Police officers Efren Fernandez and Francisco Martinez, went to the former student's residence in the 100 block of Sixth Street in Gustine on Friday afternoon to make the arrest for felony criminal threats, the police department's news release states.
But Delgado tried to flee, jumping over the backyard fence and running into the back alley, according to the release.
Martinez apprehended the former student and took him into custody on suspicion of making criminal threats, resisting arrest and violation of probation, the release states.
Merced County Jail records indicate Delgado was being held with no bond at the Merced County Sheriff's Main Jail Friday night.
Delgado was previously convicted of threatening a school officer or employee, a felony, on Sept. 30, 2016, according to Merced Superior Court records. He was sentenced to 180 days in county jail and three years probation.
After Delgado was transferred from Gustine High to Pioneer High to get him on track with his high school credits, he ultimately was expelled for "discipline issues," Petrone said, adding he couldn't comment on the details surrounding Delgado's expulsion.
Medeiros said he couldn't comment directly on details of the threats for which Delgado was previously jailed. But he said Delgado exhibited a behavior of threatening acts.
Court records also indicate Delgado admitted to violation of probation on June 14, 2017, and Jan. 10, 2018, according to court records. He was sentenced to 30 days and 48 days in county jail.
"Even if the (school shooting) in Florida had not taken place, we'd still have been taking action against this threat," Medeiros said.
Cruz allegedly killed 17 people Wednesday at his former high school in Parkland, Florida.
"(Delgado's) specific post was basically glorifying what that individual in Florida did," Petrone said.
Media and awareness of the red flags surrounding Cruz before the Florida shooting helped push the reporting student to tell Petrone about the post, he said.
Delgado was one of many teens arrested across the country for threatening schools after the Florida shooting.
A 14-year-old boy from Florida also was arrested Friday by the Port St. Lucie Police Department after he threatened to shoot up the school because of a 10-day suspension in a social media post that included a photo of himself holding what looks like a rifle, according to the police department's Facebook page.
According to the Burlington Free Press, an 18-year-old man pleaded not guilty Friday to attempted murder charges in Vermont after he allegedly said he wanted to cause "mass casualties" at a high school in an attack he was planning for two years.
Santa Nella residents also received a scare Friday morning when authorities received reports of a teen with a rifle near the trailer park on Highway 33 and a church, Merced County Sheriff Vern Warnke said.
Romero Elementary School was placed on a brief lockdown that was lifted after authorities determined it was a teenager target shooting with a BB gun, Warnke said, adding that students were never in danger.