Sonora, CA — During an unsettling week following a thwarted mass school shooting at Summerville High, police are now investigating a death threat at Sonora High.
A note was found stuffed into a Sonora High student’s gym locker yesterday that threatened her life. It is not the first threat against this student.
Sonora Union High School District Superintendent Pat Chabot confirms this latest incident saying, “Whoever is doing this is very sick and very mean, and we are taking it very seriously.” He adds that staff is taking all the necessary precautions, stating, “We’ve advised the girl not to come to school today…we are interviewing everyone who could have possibly been in the locker room during the potential time that we think may be the note was put in there.”
As previously reported, at the end of the last school year the student received other notes and graphic texts that escalated into a physical attack in the girls locker room by a person wearing a cinched hoodie as a face covering. The student was punched in the face and suffered a black eye, bruises and scrapes. Although the Tuolumne County Sheriff’s Department was called to the campus to investigate, the culprit has not yet been caught. Providing an update, Chabot states, “There’s still no movement…we’re are still trying to find who did the assault…we’re still kind of stymied, in that regard.”
There are few leads to go on because no one witnessed the attack, cameras are not allowed inside school locker rooms and those outside the locker area offer poor visibility. Back in July, after the first assault, the student’s parent called on the school to update the old security cameras, which the board agreed to do. That was more than three months ago.
Chabot counters that the process is a complex one. He explains, “We have to design exactly where we want cameras. We had specialists come out last week…look over the campus and figure out exactly what locations…what style of cameras…they’re coming to us with a proposal — I believe it’s next week — and we will then go out for bid on that.”
At the time that Chabot talked to Clarke Broadcasting about this latest death threat to a student, he indicated it was undecided as to whether or not an alert would be sent to parents notifying them of the event. Administrators chose not to issue a notice to parents after the incident. “Looking back at it, we probably would have handled it differently, knowing what we know now,” Chabot admits. As to whether that statement means an alert will go out to parents this time, he replies, “We’re in the process of working through a response on that…we’ll be discussing it with the high school administration team.”
When asked when incidents like this continue to happen, how students and parents can feel the campus is safe, Chabot states, “I feel this case is kind of an isolated case in that, for some reason, one person is picking on or singling out this girl to harass her. The rest of our students are very safe here. We are very concerned about this one student and doing everything to help her and keep her safe.”
Although Chabot says he has not yet directly spoken to the Sonora Police Department, which is handling the incident, he notes that Principal Ben Howell has been working closely with the detective assigned to the case, as well as with the Tuolumne County Sheriff’s Department, which has been cooperating with city law officials since the student battery that triggered the initial investigation. A call to Sonora Police Chief Mark Stinson this morning for more details on its handling of these latest developments has not yet been returned.