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No Charges Filed Against Whitney High School Students Arrested In Relation To Alleged Threats Of Campus Violence

July 02, 2014

R. Scott Owens

District Attorney

PLACER COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY

10810 Justice Center Drive, Suite 240

Roseville, California 95678

916 543-8000

 

PRESS RELEASE

For Immediate Release

Date: July 2, 2014

Contact:

Jeff Wilson

Assistant District Attorney

916-543-8000

NO CHARGES FILED AGAINST WHITNEY HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS ARRESTED IN RELATION TO ALLEGED THREATS OF CAMPUS VIOLENCE.

After reviewing the case submitted to our office by the Rocklin Police Department, our office has determined that no criminal charges will be filed against Justin Herrmann, 18, of Rocklin or against any of the juveniles arrested for their involvement in the case. This decision is based on an analysis of applicable law and the evidence obtained from the investigation conducted by Rocklin Police Department detectives.

The evidence presented showed that Mr. Herrmann had posted a message on social media in April that a friend of his was going to "shoot up the school." Mr. Herrmann later admitted to investigators that his friend never made such a statement. That statement was forwarded by other students on a social media site in May just before the end of the school year and was eventually seen by Rocklin Police and school administrators when a concerned parent reported the post.

Rocklin Police and school administrators reacted quickly to investigate if there was a legitimate threat to the school. When Mr. Herrmann was initially contacted, he denied any knowledge or any involvement in the posting of the message. The school’s principal took steps to notify the parents of the situation via a recorded phone message.

After learning of the announcement made by the principal, the juveniles arrested began to post a series of messages which were attempts at humorous commentary concerning the announcement. The posts included comments such as “I am the real shooter”, “wear neon and Kevlar today”, “it’s shoot up the School day” and other similar posts. A rumor was even perpetuated that there was a "hit list" of students who would be targeted. There was never any such list. These juveniles making these posts were never associated with nor had any connection to Mr. Herrmann or his post.

In order to be convicted of a threat on a school or on another person, the District Attorney’s Office must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr. Hermann or the juveniles possessed a criminal intent in that they intended that the treat be taken seriously and that it was intended to place others in fear. A review of the evidence clearly indicates that none of the individuals possessed any such intent.

While Mr. Hermann may not have committed a crime or posed a threat to the school, it is clear that his delay in cooperating with officers directly related to the escalation of a volatile situation. It is clear that if he admitted what he had done when first confronted by law enforcement rather waiting until the situation had escalated, the response of the Police and school administrators to protect the students may have been unnecessary. Those juveniles who responded to the announcement of the Principal on social media should have been mature enough to understand that such comments are not humorous, not responsible, and not appropriate. The sarcastic commentary, again, escalated an already tense situation that forced the Police and school administrators to act quickly.

It is clear that the actions of those students arrested were socially irresponsible and placed the school administration and the Rocklin Police Department in a situation to act in order to protect the student and teachers. It should be clear to everyone by now, including high school students, that after the tragedies we have watched unfurl on campuses around our nation, the smallest of comments suggesting impending campus danger will not be dismissed but met with a prompt response to keep our schools safe. Police agencies and school administrators who dismiss such information would be derelict in their responsibility to our community and would risk having to endure the pain of watching students and staff losing their lives. Fortunately, the school administration of Whitney High School and the Rocklin Police Department acted quickly to ensure the campus was safe for our students and teachers and, after a thorough investigation, determine the truth behind the social media postings.
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