School shooters: Know the warning signs
Students and parents at Monterey Trail High School in Elk Grove were on edge Friday morning after a man threatened to shoot students Thursday on social media.
A man with the online profile name of Richard Thompson began sending friend requests to students at Monterey Trail yesterday, according to community activist Berry Accius. In his online posts, Thompson had a picture of himself with his face half-obscured by a mask or bandanna.
He wrote, “im dat (expletive) comin to get yo asz in the daytime … wit dat semi-automatic.” Thompson repeated similar threats in a second post, prompting parents and students to call police and the school, and to begin warning each other on social media.
Accius, who does not have children who attend the school, said parents also began calling him early this morning with fears about the threat.
Accius said he sees the Monterey Trail incident as part of a larger pattern of local school threats that have happened in the wake of the school shooting last month in Parkland, Florida. He said that while many of these have turned out to be hoaxes, he and other parents feel they should be taken seriously.
“A lot of parents have been saying that they are not getting information the way they would like,” said Accius.
On Thursday night, Monterey Trail Principal Erik Swanson sent an email to parents saying the threat had been investigated and police had found it "not credible."
"Late last night, District officials received concerns about a threatening social media post that indicated doing harm to 'MT'. Some thought 'MT' meant Monterey Trail," Swanson said in his email. Law enforcement was immediately contacted to investigate and the originator of the post was identified and contacted. Law enforcement deemed the threat not to be credible."
Police determined the post contained lyrics from one of Thompson's rap songs, said Elk Grove Unified School District spokeswoman Xanthi Pinkerton. He is not an EGUSD student and had no previous posts visible to the public on his profile, which had been taken down as of Friday morning.
Swanson went on to say extra security was added at the high school Friday morning "out of an abundance of caution."
The reassurance didn't soothe some parents whose children attend the school.
Lynette Smith, a parent of a Monterey Trail junior, said she was one of those keeping her child at home today. She said she called the school and was told Thompson had been arrested and the threat was deemed not credible, but is worried others could be involved.
“This is serious,” Smith said. “I don’t feel comfortable.”
Smith said school officials told her that her son’s absence would be considered unexcused, which Smith said she was unhappy with. She also said she didn’t feel the school was giving her enough information to be comfortable sending her son to school.
“I don’t want it to be shown negatively on my son’s attendance record,” Smith said. "I’m sure they can’t get into detail, but when they put out basic emails like that, I have questions. You don’t know what’s real and what’s not real with what’s going on today.”