Two San Fernando Valley fathers are facing jail time and fines for allegedly failing to properly store firearms, which were discovered by police investigating school threats allegedly made by their sons, Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer announced Monday.
"It's imperative that adults lock up their guns. For goodness' sake, lock up your guns," Feuer said. "It's the law. There's no excuse not to and it could make the difference between life and death in the community in which you live. Store your guns safety."
Robert Christy, 59, was charged with three misdemeanor counts of unlawful storage of a firearm, and faces up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine for each charge.
According to Feuer's office, Christy's 16-year-old son made threats around Feb. 5 to other students at Chatsworth Charter High School indicating he was going to carry out a shooting, and he made numerous references to his parents' guns on previous occasions.
On Feb. 17, Los Angeles School Police went to Christy's home after another parent reported the alleged threats. Police recovered an unsecured rifle in the closet, two revolvers and one semi-automatic handgun unsecured in a bag behind a dresser and about 90 rounds of ammunition also in the bag, according to the City Attorney's Office.
Dazo Esguerra, 50, was charged with two misdemeanors -- criminal storage of a firearm and unlawful storage of a firearm.
According to Feuer's office, in February, Los Angeles School Police visited the defendant's home after his 17-year-old son allegedly made threats involving a gun to another student at Granada Hills Charter High School. His son also allegedly made social media posts with the firearm.
Officers found a loaded semi-automatic handgun unsecured in a bag located in Esguerra's closet, along with a magazine with seven rounds of ammunition, according to Feuer's office.
Speaking at a news conference at City Hall East, Feuer said "tragedies were averted" in both cases "because students and adults talked to each other and then contacted the school police. If you see something or you hear something, it's imperative that you say something."
Feuer said his office only handles investigations of adults, and that any investigation of the minors allegedly involved in the school threats was being handled by the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office, which did not immediately respond to a request to comment.
LASPD Chief Steven Zipperman said the two cases were only a few of the threats his department has investigated since a Feb. 14 shooting in Parkland, Florida, at Stoneman Douglas High School left 17 people dead.
"Since the Feb. 14 tragedy, we alone in the Los Angeles School Police Department have already investigated over 75 threats related to something involving our schools, either on social media or threats that are uttered verbally student to student or otherwise," Zipperman said.
In response to the Parkland shooting and calls around the nation for better school security, Feuer announced last week that he was forming the Los Angeles School Safety Blue Ribbon Panel, which will hold a series of public hearings before issuing a report this summer. The panel will bring together leaders and experts, including Zipperman.
"The message today is about safety and I want our families to know that we remain committed to the safety and welfare of all our students and employees," Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education member Scott Schmerelson said. "Our teachers and principals have been trained on how to respond to a threat that was made on campus, but we need help from you parents, the parents out there, to help keep our schools safe. Parents, if you have a firearm in the house, make sure it is stored in a safe and locked place."
Jonas Poggi, a student organizer with March For Our Lives LA, said, "Almost one month ago in Parkland, Florida, the lives of 17 innocent students, teachers and coaches were taken. As student organizers with March For Our Lives LA, we say enough is enough. That's why on March 24, we'll be marching in downtown in solidarity with students in Parkland, Washington, D.C., and communities across the country demanding common sense gun laws and an end to the gun violence epidemic. We appreciate the support of City Attorney Mike Feuer, a longtime advocate of gun violence prevention."