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Student Gets Probation for Threatening Classmates

Internet: Fifteen-year-old leaves Birmingham High School and is ordered to complete 125 hours of community service.

April 03, 2001|CAITLIN LIU | TIMES STAFF WRITER

A 15-year-old boy accused of posting threats over the Internet against his Birmingham High School classmates was sentenced Monday to probation and 125 hours of community service, authorities said.

The unidentified youth admitted to a felony charge of making a terrorist threat, Deputy Dist. Atty. Dan Feldstern said.

Although the charge carries a maximum penalty of three years' confinement, Feldstern said that the sentence was appropriate, "given his age and the fact that he had no prior police contact."

On Monday, Sylmar Juvenile Court Judge Morton Rochman also ordered the boy to limit his use of computers, to obtain psychological counseling and to stay away from any school he's not attending.

According to authorities, the youth posted messages over the Internet threatening to bring an AK-47 to the Van Nuys school, shoot 75 students and plant bombs. On the day that he claimed that bombs would detonate, more than 1,000 students stayed home from school out of fear, authorities said.

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Police began the investigation after a parent whose child attended Birmingham noticed the threat while the child was using the computer. After contacting the Internet service provider, investigators identified the boy by tracing his e-mail signature.

The boy was arrested March 14. A search of his home turned up no bombs or weapons, police said. He told authorities that he had been mistreated by schoolmates. Another student at the school said that people often made fun of the boy "because of the way he looks."

Defense attorney Alaleh Kamran said her client is a good kid from a religious family and that he didn't think the threat would go that far.

Last week, the boy was released from custody and placed on electronic monitoring. He now attends a private school, according to authorities.

Robert Collins, area superintendent, said the boy probably would have been kicked out of Birmingham anyhow because a felony conviction such as this "is an expellable offense."

"Every young person, every teacher and parent has a right to expect a safe school," Collins said. "We will not tolerate threats on our school."

The boy's act, Collins added, "had a very harmful effect on the school environment."

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