In a 12-second Snapchat video, a teenage boy holds a noose around his neck, grinning as he says, “You must die (expletive),” his tongue wagging loosely as he laughs with other boys unseen behind the camera. Then he says the full name of an African-American schoolmate and the camera cuts to a handgun firing.
The Central Catholic High School student named received the video on March 25, Good Friday, after the school had closed for Easter break.
“We were out at the store and when I saw the expression on his face – he had been happy and joking around, and he showed me the video and I was just flabbergasted. I couldn’t believe it,” said Tanya Porter, the teens mother.
Normally, Snapchat videos are deleted after 24 hours if opened, but Porter captured it with her phone and said she showed the disturbing video to the school’s dean as classes resumed Monday morning.
“Something of this nature, a form of bullying and hate – that noose is hate ...,” Porter’s voice choked with emotion. “That's something that's supposed to not be tolerated at our school.”
Porter did not know the boy in the video, who is white, but said her son, a senior, recognized him. Her son is a year or two older and was not friends with the younger teen. Porter said her son was shocked to see the boy walk into one of his classes on Tuesday, delivering papers as a teacher’s assistant.
Realizing the boy was still on campus and still a potential threat to her son and others prompted her to take the video to police Tuesday, Porter said, adding no one from the school had contacted her as of Tuesday night.
Modesto police Lt. Ivan Valencia confirmed a report was filed Tuesday and that detectives are investigating the case as a hate crime.
“Especially with what's happened all across the country, with the shootings. I’m thinking of every child that attends Central Catholic. I'm not just thinking of my son. I can't believe something like this happened,” she said.
Reached by email Tuesday, CCHS President Jim Pecchenino said he was aware of the incident.
“We have received what we believe is a copy of the video and are currently investigating the facts related to it. In addition, we are cooperating with law enforcement. Our students and families are our top priority and I can assure you we will take whatever steps we deem necessary to continue to insure their safety,” Pecchenino wrote.
Central Catholic, a private Catholic high school with a strong sports program and a long list of students accepted to prestigious universities, prides itself on the character it instills in its students.
Porter said the focus on moral guidance was part of what drew her to the school, and despite the video’s threat, she has no intention of keeping him home.
“He’s a senior. He graduates in less than six weeks,” she said. “He’s got grad night. Prom is approaching. This is the highlight of senior year – I'm not taking him out of school.”