Parents at Vista Murrieta High School say they're thankful a tipster on the East Coast notified law enforcement when one of the 15-year-old boys mentioned the alleged plot during an anonymous online conversation. Janet Kwak reports from Murrieta for the NBC4 News at 11 p.m. on Aug. 17, 2012.
Less than a week before the school year is set to begin, a pair of 15-year-old students was arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to commit murder after police say they were involved in planning "serious threats" against students and staff at Vista Murrieta High School.
The teens were identified as Reed Peery and Samuel Noble, according to John Hall, with the Riverside District Attorney's office. Hall told the Press-Enterprise that even though the students are minors, California law permits their names be released because they have been arrested on suspicion of a "serious crime."
One of the students allegedly spoke of the plot during an online conversation with someone on the East Coast, said Karen Parris, spokeswoman for the high school. That person notified their local law enforcement, which then notified the FBI.
"Thank you for stepping forward, you know, thank you for doing your part to protect our children and the city," Cathy Bearse, parent, said referring to the tipster.
In their alleged plans, the boys mentioned a specific date but it was "not in the near future," Parris said. The two would-be sophomores are facing disciplinary action, but Parris said she could not go into details.
The students were arrested on Wednesday and booked into Southwest Juvenile Hall, said Lt. Tony Conrad, with Murrieta police.
Conrad said the FBI and Temecula Sheriff’s Department tipped off police on Aug. 8 that the boys, both residents of Murrieta, were allegedly making online threats against the 3,350-student campus, which is scheduled to start classes on Tuesday, Aug. 21.
Parents were notified on Friday of the alleged threats by an automated phone message sent by Vista Murrieta Principal Darren Daniel, Parris said. The school is planning a safety meeting for next week to address the incident.
"We’re all trying to figure out how we can better secure our children at the school and how to prevent something from happening like in Columbine," said Max Martinez, parent.
On his Facebook page, one of the suspects, Peery, lists "Zero Day" -- a film based on the Columbine school shooting -- among his favorite movies.
The case has been sent to the Riverside District Attorney’s Office for review, Conrad said.