Students eagerly left Actis Junior High Monday afternoon when school ended just as they would any other day.
School was out and the southwest Bakersfield campus was safe.
A juvenile, who ultimately did not have access to firearms, posted threats via social media of a planned shooting for Monday at the school at 2400 Westholme Blvd., the Bakersfield Police Department said Monday after it had announced the suspect’s arrest Sunday night.
“We are seeing these threats being made on social media because some maybe believe it offers immunity,” said Sgt. Robert Pair, BPD’s public information officer. “But based on past investigations, we are able to ascertain the identification of the threat maker.”
BPD was alerted Saturday and immediately began an investigation that led to the identification of a 14-year-old suspect who had recently been suspended from school. BPD said there were no other suspects in this incident.
Staff at Actis denied a media request to speak with Actis Principal Patrick Spears and directed all requests to the Panama-Buena Vista Union School District. Superintendent Katie Russell and staff did not return multiple requests for comment.
“We take any threat, in-person or via social media, extremely seriously in light of national events as well as events that have occurred in the past,” Pair said. “Ultimately each individual incident has its unique process.”
In this case, the juvenile suspect was arrested and booked into juvenile hall.
These types of cases involving minors are handled in juvenile courts, where proceedings are confidential, explained Joseph A. Kinzel, Kern County assistant district attorney.
While he could not speak specifically to this threat, he offered a fact scenario that involves threats of a school shooting that might involve review for charges of Penal Code Section 422 on criminal threats, which says “any person who willfully threatens to commit a crime which will result in death or great bodily injury to another person, with the specific intent that the statement, made ... by means of an electronic communication device, is to be taken as a threat, even if there is no intent of actually carrying it out, which, on its face and under the circumstances in which it is made, is so unequivocal, unconditional, immediate, and specific as to convey to the person threatened, a gravity of purpose and an immediate prospect of execution of the threat, and thereby causes that person reasonably to be in sustained fear for his or her own safety ...” could be charged.
Juvenile court case decisions are made with an attempt to rehabilitate the minor.
If the crime is committed by an adult, a conviction can result in 16 months to three years in prison or probation.
BPD has training on how to react at an active shooting, Pair said, adding that BPD also offers in-person presentations that instruct students about the dangers and damage of bullying and cyberbullying.
Presentations are held for elementary, junior high and high school students and are geared toward the internet and social media, said Carina Ortiz, BPD’s community relations supervisor.
Schools or youth groups that are interested in receiving the presentations can call BPD community relations at 661-326-3053 or email BPDcommunity@bakersfieldpd.us.