DESERT HOT SPRINGS, Calif. - Desert Hot Springs Police arrested three 14 year old students Sunday evening in connection with threats of violence against Desert Hot Springs High School.
In a Monday afternoon news conference, Acting Chief Jim Henson thanked patrol officers, who he said worked tirelessly to "thwart this from happening today." The details of a planned attack were not released other than it was to happen on Monday.
Henson also showed two real and one replica firearm which were confiscated as part of the investigation, and called for a ban on replica firearms.
"Obviously this could have created a deadly situation at our school today," said Henson, "but that was thwarted. As far as the replica, you could see," he gestured, "you can't tell the difference and unfortunately, we hear a lot of this go on throughout the country. And toys like this. They don't need to be here. We need to have a ban."
Henson pointed out that the replica assault rifle confiscated by officers on Sunday did not have an orange tip, or distinguishing features that would make the firearm discernable as a fake weapon.
"The only thing this is going to cause is for a child or a juvenile to point it at law enforcement and have a deadly confrontation take place," continued Henson.
Desert Hot Springs police officers worked with the Palm Springs Unified School District in the investigation, prompted by a PSUSD staff member who saw something that raised a red flag on social media on Sunday.
Assistant City Manager Doria Wilms said the suspects were two teen boys, and one girl. She announced that police found a replica AR-15, a real revolver, and a semi-automatic handgun.
Police found enough evidence to arrest the students, who were booked into juvenile hall and are being held on charges of making terrorist threats.
Students of Desert Hot Springs High School shared with News Channel 3 they frequently practice "active shooter drills" preparing for the worst case scenario: "We just go away from the windows, and just stay quiet, lock the doors and don't make noise," said one sophomore.
"I feel like either way it's something we should know...whether we're in public or on education grounds," said a senior.
Staff members at DHSHS were alerted to the arrests Monday morning at a staff meeting and parents were called shortly afterward, according to Boiko. "..to share the information and ensure them that all safety precautions had been taken, security was and will continue to be enhanced, and any potential threat to the school has been averted at this time."
"This incident serves as a reminder to our students and staff members about the importance of reporting anything they see or hear that looks, sounds or feels suspicious," Supt. of Schools Dr. Sandra Lyon added. "As a result of the sharing of information in an efficient and expedient manner, any potential threat was averted, and student and staff safety was not compromised."
Stay with News Channel 3 for more information.
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