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California teen with ‘ghost gun’ arrested after threatening to shoot ‘up a school,’ officials say

The 17-year-old was charged with criminal threats, possession of brass knuckles and possession of an unregistered gun, according to the Menifee Police Department.
Heritage high School in Menifee, Calif.
Heritage High School in Menifee, Calif.Google Maps

A homemade gun and brass knuckles were found on a California teenager accused of sending social media messages about shooting “up a school” and “kids,” authorities said.

The 17-year-old high school senior, who was not identified, was arrested on charges that included criminal threats, possession of brass knuckles and possession of an unregistered gun commonly known as a “ghost gun,” the Menifee Police Department said in a statement Saturday.

The social media messages did not mention a specific school. The student attended Heritage High School in Menifee, about 30 miles south of San Bernardino, police said.

The initial investigation revealed that in addition to the threats of violence, the suspect had been “harassing students and was in possession of a firearm,” police said, adding, “Detectives authored search warrants for the suspect and his residence.”

The boy was booked into the Riverside County Juvenile Hall, police said.

The public should know “all threats, whether specific, implied, or otherwise, that cause fear in our community will not be tolerated," police said.

Ghost guns are created by assembling pieces, sold together in kits or separately, to create fully functioning guns, police say. The kits, which can be purchased without background checks, do not have serial numbers, making them accessible to people who are legally prohibited from buying guns, including minors, authorities said.

President Joe Biden in April announced new restrictions on ghost guns, requiring makers of gun kits to include serial numbers on the firearms and sellers to follow the same standard as with other guns, including requiring background checks for purchases.

“These guns are the weapons of choice for many criminals,” Biden said. “We are going to do everything we can to deprive them of that choice.”

The Perris Union High School District said in a statement Monday: “While there was no threat specific to Heritage High School, we wanted to be sure our families were aware of this Incident. Parents and guardians, please take the time to talk with your students about the appropriate use of social media. All threats of violence are taken seriously and we will continue to work diligently with our law enforcement partners to pursue any person of interest.”

The incident in California comes shortly after a fifth grade student in Florida was charged with sending a text message threatening to carry out a mass shooting there.

In a statement May 28, the Lee County Sheriff’s Office said it had learned earlier that day of a “threatening text message” sent by a student at an elementary school.

It said its school threat enforcement team was immediately notified and started investigating. The 10-year-old boy was interviewed and charged later with “making a written threat to conduct a mass shooting,” the sheriff’s office said.

The Florida threat came just days after the shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, left 19 students and two teachers dead.