HEMET: 16-year-old girl arrested for threat scrawled on bathroom wall
HEMET — School District and Sheriff’s officials announced the arrest earlier today of a 16-year-old girl who allegedly scrawled a threat against Hemet High School – and more directly, the school’s principal. The threat was left on a tiled wall inside a stall within a girl’s bathroom on the school’s campus.
The arrest of the Hemet High School student where the threat was made was one of at least two major incidents at three Hemet-area campuses involving law enforcement related activity based on real or perceived threats.
With San Jacinto Valley law enforcement agencies already on high-alert over the scrawled bathroom threat, the other incident happened at Diamond Valley Middle School and caused the lock down of that campus as well as nearby McSweeny Elementary School.
The middle school incident involved a 7th grader who reported hearing gunshots fired within the school’s campus.
The girl’s hysterical call to her older sister brought a tidal wave of law enforcement officers flooding first onto one and then both campuses this afternoon.
Reports of an active shooter on the middle school campus were later unfounded.
The investigation involving the bathroom threat at Hemet High School began yesterday morning after cell phone images of the threat began to spread across social media. The threat caused immediate panic among parents with children who attend the school and many jammed the school’s phone lines trying to report the image or wanting to know how the incident was being handled.
The message – which was scrawled in black permanent marker – read, “Hemet High will be shot up on 2-28 by a sophomore girl […] the first on my list is Dr. Shaw’s bitch ass […] Don’t be in my way.”
Responding to reports of the threat the night before the date listed within the threat, Hemet High Principal Dr. Emily Shaw felt compelled to answer the threat directly as a person and not just as a school administrator.
“Being directly mentioned is, of course, unsettling,” Shaw wrote in part. “However, my focus is to ensure the safety of my students and staff.”
Within hours, images of the threat had been shared and re-shared on countless personal social media pages as well as community pages dedicated to sharing Hemet and San Jacinto Valley based news and information.
In the wake of the Valentine’s Day mass-school shooting in Parkland, Florida, students, parents, administrators and law enforcement officials were quick to jump on the threat, which both District and Sheriff’s officials say they took very seriously and investigated thoroughly.
The night before the date listed in the threat, some Hemet-area parents said they had no intention of sending their children to school the following day.
“With everything that’s been happening lately, you’d better believe we’re not sending our kids to school tomorrow,” Hemet resident and parent of three school-age children Lynn Hoffman said Tuesday night.
Hoffman explained that until schools could better ensure the safety of her children, she and her spouse will continue to take every “legitimate” threat seriously.
Although deputies from the Riverside County Sheriff’s Hemet Station quickly deemed the threat not credible, their investigation resulted in today’s arrest, as well as beefed up patrols around and within the school property throughout the day.
“Several uniformed school resource officers and several plain-clothed investigators were assigned to the campus to protect students and staff,” Riverside Sheriff’s Sergeant Robert Duckett explained after today’s arrest.
Early during the investigation, a Kid’s With Gun’s Protocol was activated and the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office was notified regarding the investigation, as were other relevant agencies.
During the investigation sheriff’s officials, including patrol deputies, school resource officers, investigators and others served a search warrant at the girl’s Hemet residence. Officials did not specify the outcome of the search warrant or what if anything was found and recovered at the home.
The alleged suspect, who was not named publicly because of her age, was eventually booked into the Riverside County Juvenile Detention Center on suspicion of making the threat.
Calling this type of activity and behavior “disruptive to our school sites and the thousands of students we are committed to protecting,” Hemet Unified School District spokesperson Alexandrea Sponheim said, “The District takes all threats, including pranks, very seriously and we work diligently with our law enforcement partners to pursue any person of interest.”
Saying Hemet High School will be returning to normal operations and staffing tomorrow, Sponheim took the opportunity to thank those involved in the investigation.
“We want to recognize the hard work of our law enforcement partners at the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department,” said Sponheim. “The deputies, investigators and command staff responded in a truly professional manner and worked diligently until the case was resolved. We cannot fully express our gratitude for their hard work during this incident.”
After hearing about today’s arrest as well as the day’s threat-based law enforcement related activity, Hoffman became exasperated and said, “What schools need to do is arm our teachers. Either that or find the resources to put more armed and trained school resource officers or security guards in the schools.”
“I mean come on,” Hoffman continued, “If our children and their safety and futures aren’t worth protecting, what is?”
Anyone with information about this incident or similar incidents is encouraged to contact Investigators Medina or Roy at the Hemet Sheriff’s Station at (951) 791-3400. Citizens may also submit a tip using the Sheriff’s CrimeTips online form.
Eddie George/Eye News Media video
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Trevor Montgomery, who recently moved from Riverside County to Shasta County, runs Riverside County News Source and Shasta County News Source. Additionally, he writes for Riverside County based newspapers Valley News, The Valley Chronicle and Anza Valley Outlook as well as Bonsall/Fallbrook Village News in San Diego County.
Trevor spent 10 years in the U.S. Army as an Orthopedic Specialist before joining the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in 1998. He was medically retired after losing his leg, breaking his back and suffering both spinal cord and brain injuries in an off-duty accident.
During his time with the sheriff’s department, Trevor worked at several different stations, including Robert Presley Detention Center, Southwest Station in Temecula, Hemet/Valle Vista Station, Ben Clark Public Safety Training Center and Lake Elsinore Station, along with other locations.
Trevor’s assignments included Corrections, Patrol, DUI Enforcement, Boat and Personal Water-Craft based Lake Patrol, Off-Road Vehicle Enforcement, Problem Oriented Policing Team and Personnel/Background Investigations. He finished his career while working as a Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Investigator and was a court-designated expert in child abuse and child sex-related crimes.
Trevor has been married for more than 27 years and was a foster parent to more than 60 children over 13 years. He is now an adoptive parent and has 13 children and 14 grandchildren.