Police make arrest in online school threat

Palm Springs police arrest a non student who posted threatening message against Palm Springs High School on Facebook

Jeff Stahl, KESQ News Channel 3 Morning News Anchor, jstahl@kesq.com
POSTED: 10:34 AM PST Dec 18, 2012    UPDATED: 04:52 PM PST Dec 18, 2012 
David Guadalupe Torres, 18 years old, Palm Springs
PALM SPRINGS, Calif. -

Palm Springs police arrested a non student Tuesday morning who allegedly posted a threatening message against Palm Springs High School on Facebook.

Police say the message was a hoax meant to be a joke.

A spokeswoman with the Palm Springs Unified School District said the school was not on lock down and there was no imminent threat.

Officers arrested David Guadalupe Torres, 18, Palm Springs without incident after an investigation that began Monday night.  He was charged with a felony for the violation of Criminal Threats, 422(a) P.C.

In a statement, the department said it received a report of a criminal threat posted on Facebook, directed towards Palm Springs High School. The threat was posted on a Facebook account belonging to a 10th grade student at Palm Springs High School and was reported by the parents of two non-involved students who witnessed the post.

Patrol Officers and Detectives began investigating the incident and interviewing the involved subjects.   Investigators learned overnight Torres was playing video games at a home with a 15-year-old friend Monday afternoon.  That other friend is a 10th grade student at Palm Springs High School.

Police say Torres accessed his friend's Facebook account during that afternoon after the 15-year-old logged onto the social network on Torres' computer, but then left the room.  

Torres is not a student at Palm Springs High School.  

Torres allegedly changed his friend's Facebook status to read "im going 2 kill every 1 at pshs 2morow so stay home I got a gun."  Police say Torres' friend returned to the room a short time later and learned about the post on his Facebook account from Torres' sister.

She had seen the post and told Torres' friend who not aware of the post.  He then reviewed it and confronted Torres about posting it.  Officers say Torres reportedly admitted to writing the post as a joke.  Torres' friend then deleted the post from his Facebook page.

Torres for the violation of Criminal Threats, 422(a) P.C., without incident. He was transported to the Larry D. Smith Correctional Facility in Banning.

The 15-year-old friend was also detained, interviewed then later released to his guardians. 

Searches of both Torres' home and his the 15-year-old friend's home turned up no firearms nor any other weapons. Two computers and a cellular phone were seized during the investigation.

A judge increased Torres' bail from the scheduled amount of $5,000 to the amount of $75,000.

Palm Springs Police said they plan to submit a criminal case to the Riverside County District Attorney's Office on Wednesday.  Investigators say they had no evidence to link either teen to actually carrying out the threat, but will handle any incident of this type with a zero-tolerance policy due to the serious nature of the threat.

"We take these matters very seriously. One of the most critical responsibilities of law enforcement is to ensure that our children and their parents feel safe when children are attending school," said Palm Springs Police Chief Al Franz.  

"That feeling of safety was recently shattered in America, as a result of the tragic events that occurred last Friday at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut," said Franz.

"It is now our responsibility to resuscitate that feeling of safety.  We will protect our children and their schools in a manner that ensures that they are safe and that the learning environment is protected," said Franz.