Teen tries to recruit students for mass shooting, bombing at Berkeley High, police say
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It’s Monday, June 6. I’m Justin Ray.
A teen was arrested after it was discovered he was “recruiting other high school students to participate in a mass shooting and/or bombing,” police said. However, questions remain about the time between police receiving a tip about the teen and his eventual arrest.
The Berkeley Police Department said it received a tip May 21 that a 16-year-old boy was plotting an attack on Berkeley High School. A search warrant was executed at the boy’s residence, where patrol officers “discovered parts to explosives and assault rifles, several knives, and electronic items that could be used to create additional weapons.”
Investigators from the Youth Services Unit eventually took over the investigation and interviewed witnesses and obtained a warrant for the teen’s arrest. The Berkeley Police Department also “worked with Berkeley High School staff and communicated with Berkeley Unified School District officials to keep them apprised of any safety-critical information.”
On May 30, the teen turned himself in to Berkeley police after what the department called an “arrangement” his attorney had made with police, according to Berkeleyside. He was arrested on “suspicion of possessing destructive device materials and threatening to commit a crime which will result in death or great bodily injury,” police said.
A Berkeley School Board meeting led to more information about the plot. The teen was planning his attack for “sometime next year,” and he obtained all his weapons legally and did not have all the parts to operate rifles and explosives, according to Berkeleyside. “Nothing was assembled,” said Officer Jessica Perry. “It was just pieces.” Perry also said the teen tried to buy a gun at school and had been browsing the dark web, an area of the internet that cannot be accessed through traditional search engines.
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Police also addressed questions about the teen’s arrest. “If we don’t have probable cause to make an arrest, the person is going to get released,” said Officer Byron White, Berkeley Police Department spokesperson, according to KTVU-TV. “It takes time and space to actually put together the investigation.” Neither the police department nor the Berkeley Unified School District has explained where the student was between the time of the tip and his arrest.
“It was, I think, extra shocking to know that we had been going to school for 10 days since the threat, without any of us being informed about it,” Berkeley High student Bahia Rozan told KTVU-TV.
“Throughout the investigation period, we were assured that this individual did not pose an immediate threat,” the school district said in a statement. “We are committed to conducting our own separate investigation, within the parameters of our authority as a school district, and as the evidence warrants, pursuing all possible steps, including discipline, that will support student and community safety.”