Instagram Threat Closes Two California Schools, Guns Found at Teen's Home

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By Alex Johnson

Two Fresno, California, Catholic schools were closed Tuesday and a 15-year-old boy was being evaluated at a mental health facility after police investigating a threat made on Instagram found an arsenal of high-powered weapons at the boy's home, authorities said.

The boy — a sophomore at San Joaquin Memorial High School — wasn't identified because he's a juvenile. His father and a third individual who asked to join in carrying out the threat were also being investigated, police said.

"We certainly believe there was a potential for a threat to be carried out," Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer said at a news conference Tuesday. "I'm very relieved that nothing bad happened in our community."

The Instagram post quoted lyrics from Eminem's "Rap God," in which he refers to the 1999 massacre at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado — specifically, a passage that mentions lining up seven kids and shooting them. Additional original lyrics specifically mentioned "a whole school of bullies."

A second person — no information about whom was made available — responded to the post asking to go along because "I got some stuff to settle."

The original poster responded: "I'll text you when 'k. I got a couple of idiots blocks I could knock off."

School officials alerted police Monday night to the post, which rapidly spread among the school's student body.

With the consent of the boy's father, police searched the boy's bedroom and found a "sub-floor" under the closet hidden by a stack of boxes, Dyer said. In the sub-floor, officers found a replica AK-47 rifle, a .357 Magnum revolver and a 12-gauge rifle, in addition to other firearms, ammunition for at least five firearms and a bulletproof vest, Dyer said.

Police display weapons Tuesday seized at the home of a Fresno, California, accused of making online threats at his high school.Fresno, California, Police Department

The guns, which Dyer said looked as though they had been moved very recently, weren't registered. California doesn't require long guns to be registered.

Dyer said charges would be sought against the boy's father for negligent storage of firearms and illegally possessing firearms while under an active restraining order. He gave no further information about the restraining order.

Both the boy and his father denied any knowledge of the weapons, Dyer said.

Dyer described the boy as an awkward loner who had faced difficult circumstances in the past year: His mother died, he quit the football team and he broke up with his girlfriend.

"We have every reason to believe he was reaching out for help, and we have every reason to believe, based on the information we have, that there was a potential for a threat to be carried out on a school," the chief said.

The boy could face felony charges of making terrorist threats, as well as disrupting school activities, Dyer said, and he is likely to be prosecuted as a juvenile, not an adult.

The Catholic Diocese of Fresno said it closed the high school and St. Anthony's School, where Dyer said the boy had run into trouble while attending it in the past, "after a social media incident." It said classes would resume as scheduled Wednesday.

"We're living in a time when so many issues of this kind keep reoccurring," Diocese Chancellor Teresa Dominguez told NBC station KSEE. "We just want to make sure that the students are at peace at home and comfortable in their school environment."