UPDATED: Arrest of Covina High School student for threats prompts rumors, absences

COVINA — The arrest of a 16-year-old Covina High School student on suspicion of making a threat against two other students, coupled with rampant and inaccurate police rumors, caused concerns and cut Friday attendance at the campus by 25 percent, police said.
Police officers responded to Covina High School to investigate a report that a student had approached fellow students and made a “threat of violence,” Covina police Sgt. Ray Marquez said in a written statement.
The alleged threat was reported to school administrators, who reported it to police.
The teenage student was arrested on suspicion of making criminal threats and was taken to Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall in Downey, the sergeant said.
“The investigation revealed that no weapons were on campus and that the student suspect does not have direct access to firearms,” Marquez said.
He added that the alleged threat was, “an isolated incident where the student suspect acted alone.”
In the wake of the arrest, students began spreading “unsubstantiated information about yesterday’s events,” Marquez said. “Some of those messages included inaccurate rumors that have increased concerns among parents and students, causing increased inquiries to the school, district officials and police.”
About a quarter of Covina High School’s student body was absent from school Friday, he said.
Covina Valley Unified School District Assistant Superintendent of Personnel Services Bill Brown reassured parents Friday that the campus was safe.
“My understanding is it was a generic verbal threat,” he said.
Because the alleged threats were an isolated incident that had already been dealt with, there was no need for parents to be worried about sending their children to school.
“It’s imperative in today’s times that we treat every concern extremely seriously and follow through,” he said.
But as far as Thursday’s incident, “It’s really a non-issue at this point,” Brown said.
School officials were awaiting the findings of the police investigation before determining what administrative action the involved student may face, Brown said.
As online rumors began circulating through social media, the district notified parents with available information via an automated phone call Thursday, he added.
“Social media poses some challenges some times. “We knew the social media had given some inaccuracies.”
Police have already beefed up patrol on and near school due to increased concerns over school safety following the massacre at Newtown, Conn., officials said.
“The Department, in conjunction with the Covina Valley Unified School District personnel, have made school safety a priority and reassure the community that yesterday’s event was an isolated incident,” Marquez said.
“Its a safe campus,” Brown added. “Everything is very calm (Friday) and we just want to get on with instructing our students.”

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