13-year-old students arrested after handgun taken to school
Two 13-year-old students remained in custody Friday at Juvenile Hall following their arrests in connection with a handgun that was taken to Toro Canyon Middle School this week.
The two boys, both middle schoolers, were arrested and booked into Indio Juvenile Hall on suspicion of being minors in possession of a handgun and being in possession of a firearm within a school zone, according to Sgt. Brandi Swan of the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department.
At 10:10 a.m. Wednesday, deputies responded to the area of Avenue 66 and Tyler Street on a report of a threat at Toro Canyon Middle School, Swan said.
The incident was reported to school administrators by students who saw another student with a handgun at a bus stop earlier that morning, according to Swan. The same student had allegedly also posted a picture on social media the night before with a handgun.
School administrators called the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department after contacting the student and when deputies arrived, they learned that at some point in the morning the handgun was passed to another middle school student, according to Swan.
“We went and retrieved that student and a backpack containing the handgun,” Bianco said. “Under closer examination of the backpack, there was an object that appeared to be in the likeness of a grenade, so out of abundance of caution for school staff and for our students that are here in school, the decision was made to evacuate the school.”
About 3,700 students from Las Palmitas Elementary School, Toro Canyon Middle School and Desert Mirage Middle School were evacuated to neighboring schools, with buses brought in to carry students off campus to be reunited with parents.
The suspected grenade turned out to be a toy radio device, Bianco said.
No one was injured during the investigation and evacuations Wednesday.
“I want to congratulate our students for notifying the right people so that this investigation could take place,” said Bianca Torres, Coachella Valley Unified School District board president. “I want to congratulate our staff for collaborating and for making this transition easier on our kids.”