Detectives with the Napa Police Department say they arrested a 13-year-old River Middle School student Thursday morning after they say he tried to interfere with their investigation into a fellow student’s school shooting plot.
On Tuesday, Napa police released information about the Jan. 2 arrest of a 14-year-old River Middle School student who police say was in the early planning stages of a Columbine High School-style attack, possibly at River Middle or Vintage High School.
A fellow student tipped police off to the student’s plans. Police say the plotter threatened the life of the tipster, who had said they would tell police and parents.
Police will not name any of the students because they are minors.
Those threats prompted police to arrest the teenager plotting the potential attack on suspicion of making criminal threats and dissuading a witness. The arrest occurred while students were on break for the winter holiday season, and after officers executed a search warrant at his home. Police said they did not find weapons but searched his computers, social media history, cellphone texts, internet history and digital notes.
Napa police said in a statement Thursday that there was no evidence the 13-year-old Napa teenager arrested earlier that morning was involved in the planning of a possible attack, but detectives believe he was trying to thwart their investigation by hiding evidence and interfering with witnesses.
Napa police Capt. Pat Manzer told the Register that the plotter and the student arrested Thursday were friends. Officers reviewed text and other digital communications between the two friends, which did not happen over social media and occurred before the first student’s arrest on Jan. 2, he said. Police would not elaborate how the students communicated because of the ongoing investigation.
Messages revealed the student arrested Thursday communicated with the student arrested Jan. 2 regarding threats made toward the tipster.
The 13-year-old was arrested at 7:30 a.m. Thursday on suspicion of two felony counts related to being an accessory to a crime that has already happened.
The incident is still under investigation, but Napa police said they had not found any additional evidence of active threats toward a school or any individual.
Police and school officials say it’s unusual for a Napa Valley school shooting threat to be deemed credible. Napa Police Chief Robert Plummer, who was sworn in on July 30, said he was aware of two other threats related to school shootings since he assumed his role. Both of those turned out to be hoaxes, he said.
The only shooting in the district’s history occurred during a science class at Silverado Middle School in May 1992, according to Emmett. One student’s arm was wounded and another student was grazed by a bullet that passed through his shirt, near his chest. The eighth grader had complained of being bullied.
In the 1992 incident, the shooter had told several fellow students that he intended to kill somebody, but they didn’t believe him and did not notify authorities.
Napa Valley Unified School District Superintendent Rosanna Mucetti wrote in a Thursday press release that the district will work on plans to address school security, and students’ emotional needs including teaching them how to be safe and respectful online.
Those plans were already in place, said district spokesperson Elizabeth Emmett, but Tuesday’s announcement added a sense of urgency to their implementation. The district is reviewing curriculum designed to help students know what to do if they hear or see something troubling.
Emmett said Wednesday that students practice drills to prepare for attacks.
Napa Valley voters passed Measure H in June 2016 and approved the district’s request to increase its debt by issuing $270 million in bonds. The school board approved in August 2016 plans to put about $5 million of that amount toward school safety purchases such as fencing, alarms and cameras during the first phase of improvements between 2016 and 2019.
Counselors will continue to remain on campuses for as long as they are needed, she said.
“We felt supported and confident in the P.D.’s assessment that this student did not constitute a threat to any campus this week,” Mucetti said of Thursday’s arrest of a second student.
“We are deeply grateful to the student who reported concerns to an adult, the adult who reported it to police, and to our staff and parents who are supporting our students and focusing on their mental and emotional health,” the superintendent said.
Anyone with information about the incident can contact the lead detective, Jason Barrera, at 707-258-7880, ext. 5325 or at email@example.com.
The public can also submit confidential tips by texting “707NPD” to Tip411, or 847411. This case’s reference number is 18-7156.