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High School Students in School. (Photo: Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock)

Planned Berkeley School Shooting Halted By Police and School Authorities

Suspect tried to recruit others in attack that would have included explosives, assault rifles

By Evan Symon, June 2, 2022 4:02 pm

Less than two weeks after mass shooting incidents at a grocery store in Buffalo, NY and a school in Uvalde, TX, another major mass shooting was thwarted in Berkeley earlier this week, preventing an unknown number of injuries and deaths.

According to the Berkeley Police Department, a 16-year-old boy was arrested on Monday following a tip that he had been attempting to recruit other students to join him for either a mass shooting or bombing of Berkeley High School. Tipped off earlier in May, police deemed the threat credible and obtained a search warrant for the teen’s residence.

Once there, the BPD found parts for explosives, assault rifles, knives, and other items that pointed to an imminent attack. A Youth Services investigation soon issued a warrant for the teenager’s arrest. The teen subsequently turned himself in and was arrested Monday on suspicion of possessing destructive device materials and threatening to commit a crime which will result in death or great bodily injury.

“We recognize the impact this news may have on our community,” said the Berkeley Police Department on Wednesday. “School safety remains a high priority for the Department. As part of that commitment, the Department has a School Resource Officer assigned to Berkeley High School who regularly liaises with school and safety personnel.  In addition to the School Resource Officer, all officers have access to a range of training and equipment that provide them the protection, skills and ability to rapidly respond to in-progress violence.”

Schools officials, meanwhile, maintained that while they were working with police on the matter, they assured the public that he was not an immediate threat to the high school due to him being monitored through investigations by the police and school.

“We were in very close contact with police,” said the Berkeley Unified School District on Thursday. “We relied on the expertise of Berkeley police in their assessment of any ongoing risk to our school community after police confiscated what they describe as parts of weapons.”

“We were also in steady communication with police about the whereabouts of this student. Throughout the investigation period, we were assured that this individual did not pose an immediate threat to the Berkeley high school community.”

Superintendent Brent Stephens also added that “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.”

“I also thank the tipsters who reported the threat. Speaking up in this instance allowed for the police to intervene in advance of any harm occurring.”

Berkeley attack thwarted

The thwarting of a likely attack in Berkeley this week became a rare success story in authorities managing to stop a mass shooting in time. While arrests have also been made in Ohio, New York, and Florida over possible attacks post-Uvalde, Berkeley was by far the most credible and imminent due to preparations for the attack being found.

“You don’t get too many police success stories in stopping mass shootings,” explained Lindsay Smith, a researcher of mass shootings and attacks in Western Nations since 1900, to the Globe on Thursday. “Most of the time you have an angry person who, with no other outlet or wanting to make it as public as possible, lashes out in these violent ways. The attackers are usually almost always men with their race being proportionate to the demographics of the country with something that just sets them off. It can be anger over something racial or sexual. Some are frustrated at things not working out with their life. Some have mental illness, while others have these thoughts manifest without anyone to tell them otherwise. And that’s just some. Others we have no idea why they did what they did, like with the Las Vegas shooter a few years ago.”

“What you don’t get nearly as often are police or others managing to find out about a possible attack beforehand, or see the shooter on their way and alert someone. Sometimes a shooter is even stopped by someone else with a gun, or at least driven off. Berkeley was one of those successes. And they lucked out because the kid trying to do it was asking around openly for help.”

“Whenever a major attack happens, gun legislation always gets brought up, although more recently we’ve been seeing increased calls for mental health funding too. Whenever there is a stopped attacked, law enforcement always tries to bolster themselves for more money, but in order to help similar prevention measures. It can mean advertisements about sending in tips of a possible attack to putting dedicated officers in local attack or terrorism prevention positions. And we’ll likely see that after Berkeley.”

As of Thursday, the identity of the student has yet to be released with some, such as the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office, refusing to comment due to the suspect being under 18.

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