BHS student charged for alleged threat
A threat to shoot 12 Belen High School students on Tuesday sent Belen Consolidated Schools administrators and the Belen Police Department into quick action.
The freshman, who allegedly made the threat, is a special education student, said Superintendent Ron Marquez.
Belen Police Chief Dan Robb said the 16 year old is charged with interfering with the educational process after police say he wrote the message that was discovered on Monday morning. He was released to his mother later that day.
The police chief said Michael Esquibel, the district's school resource officer, found out about the incident after two girls at the school overheard the boy bragging about writing the message.
The message was discovered "right away" in the boy's bathroom in the 100 building after first period. The boy was identified with the help of a yearbook from a previous year.
The message said, "On 12/18, I will shoot 12 kids! So (expletive) you all!"
When the student was identified, he was taken out of class and placed on suspension. He will be on suspension until his hearing, or manifestation determination on a special education student, where he face possible expulsion.
"We're thinking the threat was a hoax, but we're not taking it lightly," Marquez said. "We're going to take every threat seriously."
The threat comes less than a week after the country's second-deadliest school shooting. On Friday, Adam Lanza forced his way inside Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., before opening fire in two classrooms. He killed 20 children, six adults and himself.
Before the massacre, Lanza shot and killed his mother, Nancy Lanza, at the home they shared.
Charlene Ortega, a parent of a BHS student, said she was nervous when she learned about the threat, especially since her daughters are the same age as the children that were killed in Newton.
"Up until the Connecticut incident, I think I had myself believing that (school) is a safe place," Ortega said. "You send your kids to school, you go to work and think everything is going to be OK.
"With this happening, it changes my view. Not because of school, but in general it shows how unsafe our children actually are."
A school shooting, such as the one in Connecticut, can happen anywhere, Ortega said.
The threat wasn't the first this year at a Belen school.
In October, four Belen Middle School students were arrested after police said they were part of a group that threatened to "shoot up" the school.
The students, Kahleb Lucero and Mateo Jaquez, both 13, were arrested and charged with assault and interfering with the educational process.
A day prior, two others, Lawrence Chavez, 13, and Alejandro Ortega, 14, were arrested and charged with interfering with the educational process. Those students were all expelled from Belen Schools.
"We do take threats serious," Robb said. "The school resource officer dropped everything he was doing and went to investigate it."
Robb said the boy's mental illness may have had something to do with the message.
"He is a young person who has some emotional problems," said Robb.
The police chief said that officers searched the boy's backpack at school as well as his Rio Communities home after his mother gave consent for the search. Robb said nothing was found in connection with the incident.
Belen students practice drills where they review what they should do in an emergency situation, Marquez said.