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Security Guard Thwarts Possible School Shooting

LOS ANGELES — A security guard is being credited with stopping what police say could have been a student’s plot to carry out a shooting at a southern California high school.

According to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, the guard was working at El Camino High School in Whittier, California, on February 16 when he heard a student say he intended to “shoot up the school” sometime in the next three weeks.

School officials say the 17-year-old student had a disagreement with a teacher over headphones and threatened to go home and retrieve a gun.

Police arrived at the school within an hour and questioned the student. He was not carrying a firearm, but law enforcement learned that a Smith & Wesson semiautomatic weapon was registered to his home address.

A search warrant was executed at the boy’s home, and police found two AR-15 rifles, two handguns, and 90 high-capacity magazines. One of the military-style rifles was registered to the boy’s 28-year-old brother, who Sheriff Jim McDonnell told reporters Wednesday afternoon is an Army veteran. The other AR-15 was unregistered.

McDonnell said the teen has been charged with making criminal threats. His brother is charged with a bevy of offenses, including possession of an assault weapon, importing high-capacity magazines, criminal storage of firearms, and failure to register a personal firearm.

The alleged threat came two days after 17 students were gunned down at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

The Norwalk-La Mirada Unified School District issued a statement regarding the incident Wednesday morning, saying officials responded quickly and effectively when the guard overheard what he perceived as a threat.

“Our policy is to always act with an abundance of caution when it comes to student welfare matters,” Superintendent Dr. Hasmik Danielian said. “We regularly review our emergency plans for each of our school sites. These plans include preparations for and responses to natural disasters, but also for intruders and threats on campus.”

The school district also conducts regular safety drills and collaborates with local law enforcement to ensure its buildings are secure, Danielian said. He added that students and staff are encouraged to report any behavior they deem suspicious to school officials and law enforcement.

McDonnell said the threat was the second serious incident at El Camino High School since the Parkland shooting. On Feb. 15, a student disciplined for using a cellphone in class allegedly told his mother he wanted a school administrator dead. The mother reported the threat to school officials and added that her son “has anger issues and I don’t know what he’s capable of.”

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, since February 14, has received 19 threats of violence targeting schools, school administrators, and students. One of those threats, McDonnell said, involved a 10-year-old who allegedly threatened to commit a “Parkland-style” shooting.