News Update

Berkeley teen arrested after trying to recruit students for a school shooting that ‘included explosives’

A 16-year-old boy was arrested Monday in Berkeley, days after police received a tip that the teen was attempting to recruit others to join in a shooting at  Berkeley High School “that included explosives,” police said, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Berkeley police first received the tip on May 21 and conducted an investigation that included searching the boy’s home. They found “parts to explosives and assault rifles, several knives, and electronic items that could be used to create additional weapons,” police said. The Chronicle reported that authorities said they also alerted Berkeley’s mobile crisis team to “evaluate” the teen.

The student turned himself in to the Berkeley Police Department on Monday afternoon. He was arrested on suspicion of possessing destructive device materials and threatening to commit a crime that would result in death or great bodily injury, police said.

The arrest was disclosed on Wednesday. The 16-year-old is being charged as a juvenile by the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office.

Police told the Chronicle that school officials were “apprised of any safety-critical information” during the investigation.

Berkeley Unified School District Superintendent Brent Stephens said the district will conduct its own investigation as well.

“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,” Stephens wrote.

Stephens noted that the arrest followed an apparently unrelated non-fatal shooting of a 17-year-old in Civic Center Park near the high school on May 26.  The shooting and the arrest of the 16-year old “may result in our students and staff feeling anxious and upset,” he wrote. Counseling is being provided at the high school, he said.

The Berkeley arrest comes a week after 19 children and two teachers were killed in a mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, by an 18-year-old gunman who was killed at the scene.  The mass shooting prompted police agencies across the Bay Area to increase patrols around local schools last week out of an abundance of caution, the Chronicle reported.