CLOVIS, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – Clovis Unified officials believe the three threats directed at Clovis West since Friday were non-credible “swatting” threats – or prank calls to law enforcement, according to a statement issued by the district on Wednesday.
As of Wednesday evening, no arrests have been announced – but officials with the Fresno County District Attorney’s Office reveal what is often charged in cases of this nature are felony violations of Penal Code section 422, commonly known as “criminal threats.” That charge carries a maximum term of three years in prison. Additionally, in instances where there are multiple threats, more than one charge may be filed.
Officials with the DA’s office did clarify that as the matter remains under investigation, “it is difficult to speak to the exact nature of state-level charges that may be brought should the perpetrator(s) be caught.”
The DA’s office also mentions that there is a “loophole” that exists in the law that makes Penal Code section 422 challenging to overcome when a “threat” is determined to be fraudulent or a hoax. They say this has created problems for prosecutors seeking to hold these callers accountable.
In a statement, Clovis Unified Superintendent Eimear O’Brien reaffirms that law enforcement and the educational community have well-orchestrated responses to false threats – and thanks all of the school staff who stepped up through these three incidents.
“I am humbled by the empathy, compassion, and calm that they have displayed and my heart hurts for the anxiety they and our students have experienced as a result of these incidents,” said Superintendent O’Brien.
O’Brien also thanked the law enforcement agencies that have responded with their multi-agency task force that includes the Clovis and Fresno Police Departments. He says that they have taken every one of these incidents with the utmost seriousness and leave no resource on the sidelines to take care of the students.
Superintendent O’Brien then turns her attention to the prank callers.
“The individual or individuals, wherever they are, who intentionally set into motion these incidents deserve our anger and disgust. We cannot tolerate such behavior, and know that our resources, and those of law enforcement, will be devoted to identifying the individuals responsible and holding them accountable.”
The statement concludes with O’Brien asking for “patience and understanding” as school officials and law enforcement provide more information.