Palomar College increases police as cautionary measure after threat

Palomar College notified the campus community it would have an increased police presence this week in the hopes of easing campus concerns after a student threatened last month to carry out a shooting on Friday, the 19th anniversary of the deadly Columbine High School shooting.

In a message to the San Marcos campus, the community college said it secured a temporary restraining order against the person. The college said it “has been informed that the individual who made the threat does not have the ability to come to the campus in the near future.”

“Safety and security of our students, faculty and staff is our number one priority,” said college spokeswoman Laura Gropen.

The school notified the campus of the threat last month, but sent out this week’s notification to reassure people who said they were concerned after the initial security alerts when out.

The 19-year-old student is the same person who had threatened to shoot up the downtown County Administration building last month. The county has also secured a restraining order against the person.

The Sheriff’s Department said the person who threatened the county had been taken into custody last month for a mental health evaluation.

Asked if a criminal case had been filed, the Sheriff’s Department said it doesn’t examine such cases until the mental health matter has been completed. It also said the person “is not currently considered a threat.”

Authorities would not confirm whether the person was in any sort of custody.

The restraining order request notifications were served at the address of a San Diego behavioral care facility.

School police officials first learned of the threat in March following a Sheriff’s Department investigation into the alleged threat, according to an attachment to a petition requesting a restraining order.

The student told a sheriff’s investigator that he’d been planning the attack since January, and had wanted to carry out the assault to commemorate the Columbine High School shooting, the document states.

The shooting occurred on April 20, 1999, at Columbine High School in Colorado. Two students killed 13 people before committing suicide.

The documents also state that the student was attempting to obtain access to a firearm.

Court documents in the county’s restraining order request indicate that the person was a student worker for the county. The person had also threatened to shoot up a county facility on the Columbine anniversary, according to court documents.

The school suspended the student, and the county fired him after learning of the threat.

Both organizations state in court documents that they sought the court orders after they were notified of the threat by a clinician who was working with the Sheriff’s Department as part of its Psychiatric Emergency Response Team, also known as PERT.

On Thursday, according to documents, a San Diego Superior Court judge granted a five-year restraining order against the person. It also bars him from having guns.

The school has a hearing slated for Friday morning to make the restraining order permanent.

[email protected]

(760) 529-4945

Twitter: @TeriFigueroaUT