Southern California

Whittier School Shooting Plot Thwarted by Security Guard, Authorities Say

A security guard's tip helped thwart a student's plot for a mass shooting at a Southern California high school, according to authorities.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department said Tuesday that a security guard at El Camino High School in Whittier overhead a "disgruntled student" threaten to open fire on the school on Friday, just two days after 17 people were gunned down at a Florida high school.

Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell said investigators responded to a report by Norwalk-La Mirada Unified School District resource Officer Marino Chavez, who overheard the student threatening that "he was going to shoot up the school sometime in the next three weeks."

"Deputies learned that the 17-year-old had an extensive discipline history at the school," McDonnell said.

Deputies discovered "multiple guns and ammunition" after searching the student's home. The weapons included two AR-15 rifles and 90 high-capacity magazines, according to the sheriff's department.

An attorney for the school district said the student apparently had a problem with a teacher's rule banning headphones. Robert Jacobsen, general counsel for the Norwalk-La Mirada Unified School District.

Jacobsen said a school resource officer, Marino Chavez, overheard the boy mumble to himself Friday that he was going to bring a gun to campus in three weeks.

"The safety officer did engage the student, and the student did comment that in three weeks he was going to bring a gun to school," indicating he was going to "shoot up the campus," Jacobsen said.

"He did say that he was just kidding, that he did not mean it," Chavez said. "I said, 'Well, you can't say those things on a school campus."' Chavez said he took the teen to the school's office, where he confirmed the remark, prompting Chavez to contact the sheriff's department.

The student was detained on suspicion of making criminal threats.

An Army veteran and 28-year-old brother of the suspect claimed the weapons belonged to him, but the sheriff's department determined that one of the AR-15s was unregistered. Daniel Barcenas, of Norwalk, was arrested on suspicion of possession of an assault weapon, thumbhole stock, import of high capacity magazine, possession of high capacity magazine, criminal storage of firearm, and failure to register a personal handgun. He was held on $108,000 bail, and was tentatively scheduled to appear in court on Thursday in Bellflower.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
Contact Us