Education

Student arrested for ‘threatening online photo’ against Los Banos High, police say

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Witnessing a crime and reporting it can be just as frightening as being the victim of a crime. Here’s what you should do if you witness illegal activity.

The Los Banos Police Department arrested a 15-year-old Los Banos High School student for authoring a “suspicious threatening online photo” referencing the school, police said.

The student was arrested on suspicion of felony criminal threats and was expected to be booked into Merced County juvenile hall, Los Banos Police Cmdr. Ray Reyna said early Monday morning.

Schools continued with no interruption Monday, Los Banos Unified School District Superintendent Mark Marshall said.

The school district received reports of a social media image depicting a shotgun, knife, shotgun shells and a backpack along with a possibly threatening statement at about 9:37 p.m. Sunday, Los Banos High Principal Veli Gurgen said.

The school district identified the student involved and forwarded the reports to Los Banos police, which was investigating the social media post, Gurgen said.

The police department also received “numerous” calls from concerned parents after the post spread across the Los Banos community, Reyna said.

Police made contact with the juvenile boy at his home late Sunday night and found the firearm that was seen in the social media post, according to a news release. The firearm reportedly belonged to the boy’s parents.

The boy was cooperative and claimed he posted the photo as a joke or prank, Reyna said.

“We don’t have history like this with him, and we don’t have any reason to believe he was going to harm anyone,” Reyna said. “Regardless, we want people to know we take this very seriously. The safety of our students is paramount; it’s our top priority.”

Reyna said anyone with questions about the incident can contact the police department at 209-827-7070.

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