Wednesday, Aug. 27, 2014

Salt Lake mom monitoring Facebook helped thwart teen shooting, police say

By Pat Reavy, Deseret News

Published: Mon, April 7 2:15 p.m. MDT

 A planned shooting near West High School involving a student was thwarted late last week thanks to a mother keeping an eye on her son's Facebook page, according to police.

A planned shooting near West High School involving a student was thwarted late last week thanks to a mother keeping an eye on her son's Facebook page, according to police.

(Tom Smart, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — A planned shooting near West High School involving a student was thwarted late last week thanks to a mother keeping an eye on her son's Facebook page, according to police.

"This could have been something pretty tragic," said Salt Lake police detective Cody Lougy.

On Friday, a West High parent called the school's resource officer — who is also a Salt Lake police officer — to report comments allegedly written by two male teenagers on Facebook claiming they were going to shoot her son.

"She had actually read threats and seen the threat on his Facebook page," said Salt Lake police detective Greg Wilking. "There were very specific threats that they were going to go the high school and shoot her son."

In addition, Wilking said, "There was a picture of the gun on Instagram, the gun that was seized. And there were letters written on the hand that was holding the gun, and those letters were gang affiliated."

Two Salt Lake police officers assigned to West High searched the area around the school. Just after 2 p.m., one of the officers found the teens in a vehicle parked at 220 W. 300 North, close by the school. Inside the vehicle officers reported finding a gun and a loaded magazine, "numerous amounts of money," marijuana and a "large bong."

The teens may have been waiting for their intended target to walk by after school, Wilking said, but he could not say for sure.

Two boys, ages 16 and 17, were booked into juvenile detention for investigation of various charges, said Wilking. The incident is believed to be gang related. The boys were not students at West High School.

As of Monday, police did not know what the dispute between the two parties was about or why the two teens allegedly wanted to shoot the student.

An investigation into where the boys got the weapon was ongoing Monday.

Lougy said investigators were looking at whether the dispute was tied to a drive-by shooting on Thursday. Just before 6 a.m., someone fired several rounds into a house and a vehicle at 900 N. Riverside. No one in that incident was injured.

Wilking praised the intended victim's mother for actively monitoring her son's social media pages, and then contacting police when she saw a potential threat. Because the threats were on Facebook, any of the student's friends could have seen them, but police said no one else stepped forward to report the threats.

Salt Lake City School District spokesman Jason Olsen said the district always encourages students and parents to report any suspicious or threatening activity they see or hear about.

"Cameras and officers can't be everywhere," he said.

Email: preavy@deseretnews.com, Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam

Recommended
1. southmtnman
Provo, UT,
April 7, 2014

I came up around gangs, and shootings happened several times. Thank goodness for vigilant mothers to help thwart this kind of domestic terrorism. That's what it is: gangs are terrorists.

2. cjb
Bountiful, UT,
April 7, 2014

This was definitely premeditated. Conspiracy to 1st degree murder is definitely warranted. These people do not belong outside of prison.

3. yarrlydarb
Ogden, UT,
April 7, 2014

Had this situation resulted in an innocent boy being killed, which it appears was possible (that or a suicide), it would merit parents not allowing their young and innocent children to have Facebook accounts.

Social media for the young can be as bad or even worse than their perusing porn on the Internet.

I see little to justify social media accounts. In my opinion it does more harm than good when it comes to "connecting" with significant friends or relatives.

Instead of interacting in productive, meaningful and rewarding ways, it can convince people that they are actually "keeping up" with important interpersonal relationships when, in fact, it distracts people from important ways to associate with each other and even does significant harm.

All this at the same time that social media makes billionaires out of those who have little of true value to contribute to society as a whole. This nauseates me. Their token contributions to charity (compared to their huge profits) to pat themselves on the back for appearance sake, does precious little to justify their enormous wealth.