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Chief Demands Review After Los Angeles DA’s Office Refuses To Charge Armed Suspect Accused Of Threatening High School

Bell Gardens, CA – Bell Gardens police refused to take no for an answer when Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascon’s office declined to file charges against an armed suspect who allegedly threatened to carry out an attack at a local high school.

The Bell Gardens Police Department (BGPD) said in a press release on Tuesday that officers were notified on March 19 about “a social media post regarding a possible threat of violence” at Bell Gardens High School.

Investigators ultimately located a suspect who was allegedly in possession of two stolen handguns, “high capacity magazines,” ammunition, and body armor and arrested him on pending charges, according to the BGPD.

But on Tuesday, the police department discovered Gascon’s office “initially rejected the entire case” against the potential gunman on the grounds prosecutors “needed additional information regarding the criminal threat,” police said.

The information Gascon’s office was referring to involved records from the social media company.

The BGPD noted that detectives requested those records on the date of the suspect’s arrest, but that the company had yet to provide the requested information to investigators.

“Upon receiving the temporary reject, Bell Gardens Police Chief Scott Fairfield contacted the District Attorney’s Office and demanded a second review of the case,” the police department said. “Inconsistencies and issues with the DA’s office were addressed.”

The BGPD did not elaborate on the nature of the “inconsistencies and issues” that were raised.

Prosecutors ultimately charged the suspect with three felony offenses, including possession of a firearm within 1,000 feet of a school zone, having a concealed firearm in a vehicle, and carrying a loaded handgun on one’s person or in a vehicle.

“The Bell Gardens Police Department is committed to ensuring the safety of students, school staff, and community members and is working in conjunction with the Montebello United School District to provide additional officers and police presence at all Bell Gardens Schools,” the police department said.

Police previously said two suspects were arrested in connection with the incident.

Investigators began looking into the case at approximately 1:30 p.m. on March 19 after students and teachers notified them about an Instagram video that panned between the school and a gun on someone’s belt, KTTV reported.

Chief Fairfield said the footage showed the individual “flashing between our high school and to what appears to be a Glock handgun.”

“Uh oh do not come to escuela mañana,” the video caption read.

Investigators soon identified the suspect as 21-year-old Rene Alvizo, according to the Los Angeles Patch.

Chief Fairfield said Alvizo is a known and admitted gang member, KTTV reported.

Officers began surveilling the suspect and allegedly saw him and a second suspect loading a suitcase into a truck, according to KNBC.

They subsequently conducted a traffic stop after noticing the vehicle had expired tags and recovered the body armor, stolen firearms, ammunition, and magazines during a consent search, investigators said.

“It contained numerous items of concern,” Chief Fairfield said. “We’re confident that the weapon shown in the video is one of the guns that we have in custody.”

The second suspect was later released and it is unclear whether he is facing any charges, the Los Angeles Patch reported.

Chief Fairfield said the motive is unclear.

“We don’t know what the motive is at this time,” he said during a press conference on March 20, according to the Los Angeles Times. “Our job is to go back and really dig in deep and find out why the threat was made, what the intent was … and see if we can determine if others were involved and so forth.”

Alvizo was not a student at Bell Gardens High School, the chief said.

The investigation into the incident remains ongoing.

Written by
Holly Matkin

Holly is a former probation and parole officer who is married to a sheriff’s deputy. She is a regular contributor to Signature Montana magazine, and has written feature articles for Distinctly Montana magazine.

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Written by Holly Matkin


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