Schools across the U.S. dealing with gun threats
Trevor Joseph Marshall had a loaded assault rifle similar to an AR-15 in his car when police officers located him Monday afternoon in a Chipotle parking lot in Roseville.
They had been looking for the 19-year-old Roseville man for about an hour after school officials told them about a threat Marshall allegedly made against an Adelante High School student in a social media post.
Marshall was just three miles from the high school when he was arrested at 1:15 p.m., and it was possible he was headed to the school, said Roseville Police Department spokeswoman Dee Dee Gunther. No students were on campus, however, because the school has a half-day schedule each Monday for teacher training, she said.
Marshall is a 2017 graduate of Granite Bay High School, according to Shannon Blockton, spokeswoman for Roseville Joint Union High School District.
He was booked into Placer County Jail on suspicion of possessing and transporting an assault weapon, having a loaded firearm in a vehicle and making criminal threats. He is being held in lieu of $50,000 bail.
It was the second threat against Adelante High School or one of its students in the past two weeks. Roseville police searched classrooms and students at the high school on Feb. 23 after a student found a threat in a bathroom stall. The message suggested a plan to shoot up the school that day and warned students and staff to evacuate, according to a letter to parents. Police put the school on lockdown for an hour, but no weapons were found.
Officers also were called to Granite Bay High School on Feb. 27 after a threatening note found in a student restroom prompted a lockdown of that campus. Placer County Sheriff's deputies conducted a room-by-room search and released students as rooms were cleared, according to a press release from the district.
The Roseville Joint Union High School District is on alert and working with law enforcement to station extra officers on campuses, a safety measure that will continue at least through this week, Blockton said.
“There is a heightened sense of awareness,” Gunther said. “We are taking every report very, very seriously.”
Marshall was one of three people arrested Monday in connection with separate school-related threats in Folsom, West Sacramento and Roseville.
Ryan Bernal, 18, was arrested and released from Sacramento County Main Jail on Monday after allegedly making a criminal threat against Vista del Lago High School students, faculty and staff in Folsom. Another student, a minor whose identity is not being released, was arrested Monday after police say he left a threatening voice mail at River City High School in West Sacramento.
School shooting threats have become a daily occurrence nationwide since 17 people were killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., on Feb. 14 by a former student wielding an AR-15 assault-style rifle.
By Tuesday afternoon, 20 days after the Parkland killings, there had been 797 threats or incidents at campuses across the nation – about 72.5 per school day, according to the Educator's School Safety Network.
There have been at least nine threats or perceived threats against schools or students in the Sacramento region since Parkland, according to school districts.
A powder puff football game scheduled for Friday night at Casa Roble High School in Orangevale was canceled because of reports on social media of potential threats.
"People were saying they had heard that there was someone coming to the event to do harm, " said Trent Allen, San Juan Unified School District spokesman. "Nothing specific or with any credibility."
The game was canceled out of an abundance of caution, he said.
The school district has had nine reports of suspicious behavior in the last nine days, Allen said Tuesday. He said reports have ranged from from threats on social media to implied threats. He said the district generally gets a couple of complaints about suspicious behavior each week, but only five or six reports a year about threats to harm others.
Those numbers have increased since the Parkland attack, he said.
"I think we are hearing more of it and we are seeing some copycat behaviors," he said. "...There will be consequences for those that make these threats."
The threats are emotionally draining to students and staff, cost police time and are disruptive to the learning process.
“When we went into the lockdown at Granite Bay, they were upset they were losing school time,” Blockton said.
Robert Faris, associate professor of sociology at UC Davis, said the increased number of threats increases the possibility that threats will be carried out. He said potential shooters increase their steps of commitment, from making indirect comments to specific threats, before they take the next step of getting a weapon and then taking it in a car with them.
He said there is no exact profile of potential shooters, but they sometimes are bullies who are also being bullied. A lot of these young men have had their masculinity or their sexuality questioned or have been the target of ridicule, he said.
"It is often kids who aren't particularly socially adept and perhaps have a problem managing emotions and are highly reactive kids," he said.
Suicidal thoughts are another sign of a potential shooter, he said, adding that most shooters don't expect to come out alive. He said suicidal people are more likely to kill themselves than others, however.
"I think that for every school shooting, there are probably a thousand kids fantasizing about shooting up their school," he said.
Despite that, he says that schools are statistically the safest place for children.
"Kids are safest at school than just about anywhere else during the day, even their own homes certainly on the road," Faris said. "These horrific incidents have captured the imagination and are terrifying, but they are, statistically speaking, incredibly rare. If (people) are worried about risk, they should worry (more) about drunk driving or suicide."