Security was heightened as students at South Pasadena High School began a new school year Thursday, just days after police thwarted two students’ alleged campus shooting plot.
The boys, aged 16 and 17, are each charged with one count of making criminal threats after they allegedly planned to shoot students and staff at their high school. They both made appearances Wednesday in Pasadena Juvenile Court and denied the charge, which is the equivalent of a not-guilty plea in adult court, according to City News Service.
"I'm just glad that it didn't happen because they were caught even before they got the weapons," student Emily Kim said. "I think we were really lucky."
The South Pasadena Unified School District issued a statement Tuesday that the heightened police presence at the school would be for “reassurance and security and not due to any ongoing threat.”
"It's a show of support more than anything," said South Pasadena Police Chief Art Miller.
The news that two students had been arrested on threat charges calmed students a bit, but nerves were still present.
"This is not the way I imagined starting my freshman year," incoming student Jennifer Lopez said. "But I feel better that everything’s been taken care of and the police are under control."
The district said that all specified potential victims were personally notified. Counselors were available for students, staff and parents. South Pasadena's police chief said there would be extra patrols at all five of the district's schools.
“Our staff will be ready to welcome back all students. Our work with young people is our joy, and we plan to share that sense of positivity with each of the students in our charge,” the statement said.
The suspects involved are in a lock-up facility and do not have access to the campus.
The father of the 17-year-old boy spoke with NBC4 outside of the courtroom Wednesday, but asked that his name not be used. He said he has not been able to speak with his son and he does want to hear the boy's side of the story.
"We were greatly saddened and disappointed by the allegations. We would like to apologize to the community of South Pasadena. We would like to thank the person who stepped forward, who had the courage, to advise the authorities," he said.
Prosecutors say the teens began making detailed arrangements to kill three staff members at South Pasadena High School and gun down as many students as possible.
The pair told another student about the mass shooting plan and they threatened to kill him, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.
The plan was thwarted after the boys were arrested following a police investigation into the alleged plot.
The boys were arrested Monday after a search of their homes. South Pasadena Police Chief Art Miller said the threat the two posed was credible.
Searches of the boys' computers turned up evidence they were looking at weapons, bomb-making supplies and bulletproof vests, Miller said.
Kelly Goff contributed to this report.