Palo Alto, CA – After learning last night of a 14-year-old high school student who had made threats online to “shoot up” Gunn High School, police were able to identify the suspect and safely take the student into custody for a mental health evaluation. The student may also be facing criminal charges.
On Thursday, August 29, 2019, at about 6:00 p.m., police noticed comments left on the Department’s Instagram page by a user whose account profile had no identifying information on it. The user wrote that they were going to “shoot up” Gunn High School (located at 780 Arastradero Road in Palo Alto).
Detectives and School Resource Officers immediately opened an investigation, and soon were able to identify the suspect as a 14-year-old student from Gunn High School. At about 8:40 p.m., police contacted the suspect at their home in Palo Alto and safely took the student into custody for a mental health evaluation. Police searched the student’s residence; there were no weapons. After the initial investigation, police believe the comments were unfounded, and that the student had no real intent to carry out a shooting. Nonetheless, detectives will be submitting the case to the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office and Juvenile Probation Department for review for criminal charges.
Unfounded threats such as this one are not only criminal in nature, but can also create a great deal of stress and anxiety for students, parents, school staff, and the community in general. Fortunately, in this case, it is not known how widely these comments were viewed by the community, as police themselves initially noticed the comments. We received no calls from the public or other students about the comments. Throughout the investigation, we worked in close collaboration with officials from the Palo Alto Unified School District.
As always, we encourage anyone who sees something suspicious, be it in person or online, to promptly report it to their local law enforcement agency. Here in Palo Alto, our 24-hour dispatch center can be reached at 650-329-2413.
Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call our 24-hour dispatch center at 650-329-2413. Anonymous tips can be e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or sent via text message or voice mail to 650-383-8984. Tips can also be submitted anonymously through our free mobile app, downloadable at bit.ly/PAPD-AppStore or bit.ly/PAPD-GooglePlay.