Police in Fountain Valley now say they believe a 17-year-old student’s email account was hacked and that there’s no evidence he sent a threatening message that forced the closure of Fountain Valley High School and an adjoining continuation school as police searched for weapons and explosives.
Teachers and administrators have been allowed back on the campuses but are being escorted by police officers, part of a final precautionary step before the schools are reopened, police said.
All classes, though, have been canceled for the day.
Sean Strayer, 17, said he was on his way to his first class at Fountain Valley High just before 7 a.m. when he learned of the threat through Twitter. A fellow student had sent a tweet containing a photo of a police car on campus.
“I decided to go to school anyway,” he said. “I didn’t know how big of a deal it was going to be.”
This isn’t the first time the high school has been locked down because of a threat, he said. Someone threatened to bring a gun to campus two years ago, he recalled, prompting a campus-wide lockdown.
“It’s sad that we have to worry about these things, but we do,” he said. “It’s pretty scary.”
Fountain Valley High School and Valley Vista High were locked down early Wednesday after school administrators reported they’d received an email from a student’s account stating that he had planted explosives on one of the campuses.
The email, which was sent about 10 p.m. Tuesday, stated that the youth intended to come onto the campus with an assault rifle and kill any survivors of the planned explosion, said Sgt. Tony Luce.
School administrators received the email just after 6 a.m. Wednesday and canceled classes and called police, Luce said.
Authorities evacuated teachers and administrators from Fountain Valley High School, at 17816 Bushard St., and the neighboring continuation school Valley Vista High, at 9600 Dolphin Ave.
When questioned at his home, police said the youth gave police access to his cellphone, computer and email account. Officials suspect that the teenager’s email account was hacked.
“He’s denying sending the email,” Luce said. “There’s no evidence that it was sent by him.”
The student, who has not been identified by police, does not appear to have access to any weapons, authorities said.
Still, authorities used police dogs and the Orange County Sheriff Department’s bomb squad unit to search the two schools. No explosive devices were found during their search, Luce said.
Authorities blocked the area of Bushard Street that runs from Talbert Avenue to Slater Avenue and said there is no timeframe for when that area will be reopened.
School officials declined to comment, but did post updates on Facebook and Twitter.
The threat of school violence comes two weeks after two teens were arrested for allegedly plotting a massacre at South Pasadena High School.
Days before that threat, two Santa Clarita Valley teens were arrested on charges of suspicion of using social media to threaten deadly school violence.
Hannah Fry writes for Times Community News.
Times staffer writer Veronica Rocha contributed to this report