Avenal police station

The police station in Avenal.

AVENAL — A 17-year-old student was arrested after making shooting threats against Avenal High School, Avenal Police Department officials said.

Though the threat turned out to be a hoax, it did not make the situation any less real for police.

On Sunday night, Avenal High School administration contacted Avenal police after they received word that a student posted a picture with a firearm on social media, Police Chief Rusty Stivers said.

Stivers said the picture warned students not to go to school the next day because it was going to be “like Florida;” referencing the recent school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida.

After school officials contacted the police department, Stivers said officers immediately began investigating and located where the 17-year-old male student lived.

Stivers said a search warrant was obtained to enter the residence and members of the Central Valley Regional SWAT Team assisted in recovering the weapon that was pictured in the social media post.

The gun that was pictured ended up being an airsoft gun and Stivers said no other weapons were found in the home. He also said the student told police the post was a hoax and he had no intention of carrying-out any type of shooting at the school.

With no other suspects, Stivers said the student was booked into the Kings County Juvenile Center and school resumed the next morning with no further incidents.

As a police chief, Stivers said he urges parents to monitor the social media accounts and electronic devices of their children and know what they are saying and doing online.

He said schools are and should be the safest places for students and it’s unfortunate that recent events have caused some people to feel uneasy about going to school.

Stivers also warned students not to posts threats that are hoaxes or jokes because they are taken seriously by law enforcement and stay on criminal records.

“This can ruin people’s lives forever,” Stivers said.

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