Breaking News Blog

Monday, Feb 18 2013 02:30 PM

Taft boy texts threats to classmates

By THE BAKERSFIELD CALIFORNIAN

A student at Lincoln Junior High School in Taft used a cell phone over the weekend to threaten eight fellow students at the school, telling them he planned to physically harm them at school.

Sheriff's deputies in the west Kern town, where a Taft Union High School student was shot on campus by a classmate in January, responded quickly and located the boy who had made the threats.

It appears, said Sheriff's Sgt. Martin Downs, that the threats were a prank.

"We cannot determine there is a credible threat to these children," Downs said.

But the boy who sent the texts has been suspended from school and his case has been forwarded to the Kern County District Attorney's Office for review.

"This kid's school future is, I believe, forever changed because of this," Downs said. "It was a joke. But in this day and age this is not a joking matter."

Kern County Sheriff's Office deputies from the Taft Substation learned about the text messages and launched an investigation Monday morning.

Downs said that the boy was using a cell phone application called "Kik" to broadcast the threats.

The application doesn't use a cell phone number to identify the user. Users are, instead, identified by a screen-name.

Sheriff's deputies, Downs said, logged on to "Kik", created a user account and contacted the person who had sent the threats.

He said deputies obtained enough information from the conversation to identify the student.

The deputies then contacted the student and his parents.

They determined that he did not have access to firearms and there was no "evidence of an ongoing plan to harm his classmates," a Sheriff's Office press release stated.

"Deputies interviewed the suspect who said he was playing a joke on his classmates by sending them the threatening text messages," the release stated.

Deputies have contacted the parents of the students who had been targeted by the threats and advised them of the status of the investigation.

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