FALLBROOK (CNS) - Sheriff's detectives were conducting a follow-up investigation Friday after determining that a pair of bomb threats made against two North County high schools late Thursday night was likely part of a "swatting" hoax, authorities said.
School administrators at Fallbrook High School and Bonsall High School received similar emails around 11:20 p.m. Thursday saying explosive devices had been placed around each campus, San Diego County sheriff's Sgt. Bill Munsch said. The name that appeared in the email address that sent the menacing message was that of a "known student."
Deputies searched both campuses and the residence where the student lives with his family but found no evidence of bombs or other explosive devices, Munsch said.
"It was determined the student was not involved and was possibly the victim of ‘swatting,"' the sergeant said.
Swatting is an illegal practice intended to send law enforcement -- often a SWAT team -- to a particular place as a frightening prank. The practice is typically used to scare, embarrass or smear the reputation of a target, but can have much more serious consequences. In December, a swatting episode led to the death of an unarmed Kansas man who was shot in front of his home by an officer responding to a false report of a shooting and hostage situation. A Los Angeles man faces a manslaughter charge for allegedly placing the malicious call.
On March 14, a SWAT response near San Elijo Park in San Marcos was likely the result of a phony swatting call, authorities said. Law enforcement were told that a woman had been shot inside a home in the 1400 block of Clearview Way, but after deputies rushed to the neighborhood and surrounded the dwelling, a man appeared on the balcony and told deputies there had been no shooting.
The resident -- a video-game enthusiast who said he had been victimized by a similar bogus 911 call -- let the personnel in, and they confirmed that there had been no gunfire and that no one was injured.
The bomb threats against Fallbrook and Bonsall high schools came less than 12 hours before law enforcement and education officials planned to speak out against a recent spate of violent threats against area campuses.
At least 20 apparently baseless threats have been made against San Diego-area schools since the Valentine's Day massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, according to local police and prosecutors.
Though none of the juvenile perpetrators are believed to have intended to actually carry out school shootings or other types of attacks, the rash of malicious rumor-mongering has left at least nine local youths facing criminal prosecution.
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