Palo Alto, CA – After learning late last night of an anonymous online threat to conduct a shooting at Gunn High School in Palo Alto today, police were able to identify the suspect early this morning as a 17-year-old student at the school. Police took the student into custody for a mental health evaluation. The student may also be facing criminal charges.
On Thursday, December 12, 2019, at about 9:15 p.m., police received an e-mail tip via our TipNow system (email@example.com) reporting a threat of a shooting slated to occur at Gunn High School, located at 780 Arastradero Road in Palo Alto, sometime on Friday, December 13. The threat had been submitted anonymously via an online web form to be considered for publication on a public Facebook group moderated by a small group of people. The moderators saw the online web form submission and forwarded it to our TipNow system. They never posted the threat on the Facebook group page.
Detectives and School Resource Officers immediately opened an investigation. The threat, which was several paragraphs in length and referenced the author being in possession of a handgun and desiring to shoot students, implied that it had been written by a Gunn High School student. Detectives eventually identified the suspect as a 17-year-old student from the school. At about 2:45 a.m. on Friday, December 13, 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 residence and located a realistic-looking replica handgun that shoots BBs in the student’s room. Detectives will be submitting the case to the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office and Juvenile Probation Department for review for criminal charges.
Throughout the evening and during the overnight hours, our personnel 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. We applaud the moderators of the Facebook group for identifying this threat and reporting it to us so we could open an investigation and find the person responsible.
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.