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CHS sophomore arrested on felony criminal threats charges

by Mick Rhodes | mickrhodes@claremont-courier.com

A 15-year-old Claremont boy was arrested last week on two felony charges of making criminal threats and making criminal threats with the use of force, after allegedly posting “don’t come to CHS on Friday” with a gun emoji next to it, on the “Official Claremont KKK” Instagram page he is said to have admitted creating.

The Claremont High School sophomore’s identity was not released because he is a minor. He was taken into custody at 5:16 p.m. Wednesday, May 25, booked at CPD headquarters, then released into the custody of his parents. His arraignment in Pomona Superior Court is pending.

Instagram has since taken down the Official Claremont KKK account (which of course references the racist, anti-Semitic Ku Klux Klan organization), but not before some local residents took screen shots of the disturbing May 24 post warning about possible violence at CHS. The page also included multiple racist messages and images, including “F&%k BLM,” in reference to the Black Lives Matter movement.

When this reporter saw a screenshot of the page late in the evening on May 24, the Instagram account had more than 24 followers.

The post alluding to a possible school shooting at CHS on May 27 was especially chilling, as it came on the heels of the horrific May 24 massacre of 19 children and two teachers by an 18-year-old man wielding an AR-15 style semiautomatic assault rifle in Uvalde, Texas.

Claremont High School Principal Brett O’Connor said he saw the Instagram post in question.

“It is far from the inclusive community that we want to create here at Claremont High School,” O’Connor said. “It was disheartening to read.”

O’Connor said by the afternoon on Wednesday, May 25, “many, many” students had made him aware of the threatening post, both by walking into his office and by posting on the school’s anonymous “Stop it” app.

Police said Claremont High’s school resource officer was made aware of the threat at 3 p.m. on May 25. Responding officers then interviewed O’Connor, who provided suspect information, CPD said. They then talked to the suspect while he was on campus at CHS.

Police later went to the suspect’s Claremont home, where during questioning he allegedly admitted to being the author of the post in question, and the creator of the Official Claremont KKK Instagram page.

The suspect’s 46-year-old father and 43-year-old mother were both at home at the time of their son’s arrest, and reportedly said they were surprised by the turn of events.

O’Connor said he has called in police on at least seven other incidents over the past 12 years involving threats made by a student.

“Whenever we see something like this we always notify the police, and we always notify the parents,” he said.

The COURIER asked O’Connor if this event felt heightened, coming on the heels of Uvalde. “No, because every time we see these it’s pretty visceral for me, because every one of them, we absolutely treat it like it could happen, until it’s verified that we know it’s not going to happen,” he said.

While the repulsive Instagram post was of course disheartening, O’Connor said getting so much feedback from students’ so quickly, all speaking up about a possible danger to the school, helped him see a positive of an otherwise terrifying situation.

“The wonderful thing is the best way to keep a school safe is for students to know they have adults they can go to and report information like that,” he said. “They are our best asset to keeping the campus safe.”

 

 

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