Fremont police said they arrested a 17-year-old high school student for threatening gun violence toward a school employee on social media, and for a hate crime.
The student, a minor, was booked into juvenile hall on Wednesday on suspicion of felony terrorist threats after Fremont police received an alert at about 9:45 a.m. from American High School staff that a student was making threats on social media, Fremont Police Department said.
Police did not detail the specific social media threats, but said the student made “direct threats of gun violence towards the school employee” and “also made comments about committing additional gun violence at an unnamed secondary school.” The posts also included “numerous racial epithets,” which prompted the hate crime investigation, police said.
School resource officers identified the student who they said was making the social media posts, police said. Police contacted the student and his family “at a location away from the school” and arrested him and booked him at juvenile hall.
Police served a search warrant at his home, where authorities said they recovered “numerous pieces of evidence” but did not disclose what kind of evidence. Police did not find a firearm, authorities said.
Police said that “At this time” they believe the student arrested was the only student who threatened gun violence. The investigation is ongoing and others may be involved, they said.
“While numerous subjects were involved in this conversation, the student who was arrested made direct threats of gun violence towards the school employee,” Fremont police said. “All other involved students have been identified and are currently being addressed by (Fremont Unified School District) staff.”
The Fremont arrest comes a day after an 18-year-old gunman killed 19 children and two teachers in a mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas. The mass shooting prompted police agencies across the Bay Area to increase patrols around local schools this week out of an abundance of caution.
In a statement to the Fremont Unified School District community, superintendent CJ Cammack said that screenshots of the “hateful speech and specific threats of violence” were circulating and that the messages had been “exchanged amongst a small group of our students from American High School.” Cammack said the messages “do not reflect the standard of excellence and high character demonstrated”at the high school or in the school district.
“The District is taking this matter very seriously and we will assign consequences as appropriate and permissible under the law and related education code,” Cammack said, adding that the school district is cooperating with the police investigation. “Hateful words and threats of violence strike at the heart of the diverse community we celebrate in FUSD. These messages dishonor our entire school community, and more directly impact specific students and staff.”
Cammack said that students in the district “have witnessed more hate and violence than any of us can fully process,” and pointed to resources the school district has offered the school community in light of the mass shooting in Texas. He also urged the school community to take advantage of counseling opportunities and to report any suspicious activity to police and school administrators.
“Please take time to talk to your student about not actively or passively participating in racist, violent and homophobic messaging. Such actions will not be tolerated or accepted,” Cammack said. “Please underscore the importance of making good choices, the potential consequences for students who engage in inappropriate and/or dangerous conduct, and the lasting impact such acts (or inaction in the face of such acts) can have on their lives, and the lives of others.”
Fremont Police Chief Sean Washington said he was proud of the school resource officers and detectives who took “immediate action upon receiving” information about the threats toward the employee, and the hate crime.
“I am also thankful for the community members and parents who came forward, as well as the students who notified their parents of the concerning messages,” Washington said. “The Fremont Police Department is committed to the safety of our community and schools.”
Washington added that, “Considering recent events, I want to ensure the public that school safety is our top priority.” He said he directed the Police Department to do more patrol checks “towards all school campuses, including resources from specialized units.”