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Texas Teens Charged With Planning School Shooting After Police Get Anonymous Tip

Donna, TX – One day after an 18-year-old gunman murdered 21 people at a Uvalde elementary school, authorities in Donna announced the arrests of four teenage boys in connection with a “credible threat” of a planned school shooting.

“We stopped an act of physical violence and harm on our students,” Donna Independent School District (ISD) Police Chief Donald Crist told reporters during a press conference on May 26, the Daily Mail reported.

Chief Crist said authorities had acted on an anonymous tip that led to the arrests of 17-year-olds Nathaniel Seth Montelongo and Barbarito Pantoja, KVEO reported.

Two juveniles were also arrested.

The threat prompted a district-wide lockdown on May 25, the Daily Mail reported.

“We’ve received a credible threat of violence that is currently under investigation. In light of the recent events and in an abundance of caution, we will be cancelling school district-wide and staff will work from home,” Donna ISD said in a statement.

A source told The Monitor that authorities found an AK-47 and a list of targeted students in one of the suspect’s homes.

Donna Police Chief Gilbert Guerrero denied those reports and said investigators had not found a target list, KVEO reported.

“There was no target list. There was supposedly some rumors going around, but there was no such thing,” Chief Guerrero said.

However, the police chief did not comment on claims that an AK-47 had been recovered, KVEO reported.

Authorities have refused to comment on the alleged weapons seizure and said the data was “critical to the case” and “will not be disseminated.”

Montelongo and Pantoja were charged with conspiracy to commit aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, KVEO reported.

They were arraigned on May 26 and each held on a $750,000 bond.

The juveniles were arraigned separately in juvenile court.

Chief Guerrero encouraged parents to pay more attention to what their children were up to, the Daily Mail reported.

“Keep an eye on your kids, make sure about what they’re doing. Look at what they have in their rooms, be vigilant,” the police chief said.

Classes were cancelled in Donna ISD for the remainder of last week but will resume on May 31, the Daily Mail reported.

Donna is located just 300 miles from Uvalde, where 19 elementary school students and two teachers were gunned down in classrooms on May 24.

Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) Director Steve McCraw said on May 27 that the door at Robb Elementary School that the gunman had used to access the west side of the building on Tuesday morning was propped open by a teacher at 11:27 a.m. that day, WPXI reported.

DPS was later forced to retract that report, and stated that the teacher closed the door as the killer approached, but the door did not lock as it should have.

DPS South Texas Regional Director Victor Escalon said the suspect got out of the passenger side of his grandmother’s wrecked truck with a rifle and a bag that investigators later discovered was filled with ammunition.

He fired on bystanders in front of a nearby funeral home and then headed to the school and hopped a fence before he began shooting at the school building from the parking lot.

Contrary to statements initially made by Director McCraw, the shooter did not encounter a police officer between the time he shot his grandmother and the time he entered Robb Elementary School, Director Escalon said.

In fact, he said no law enforcement officers were present at the school at all when the shooter arrived.

Director McCraw said the shooter barged into one of the classrooms through an open door and opened fire immediately.

He said the shooting began in either room 111 or 112, which were adjoining.

Law enforcement officers from multiple jurisdictions responded to the scene and the first officers who entered the school took gunfire.

Director McCraw said Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District (CISD) Chief Pete Arredondo, the on-scene commander, determined the incident had “transitioned” into a “barricaded subject situation” as opposed to an active shooter situation.

He said Chief Arredondo believed the children were not at risk.

During the terrifying ordeal, one little girl inside the classroom called 911 repeatedly, begging dispatchers to send police, WPXI reported.

Negotiators attempted to communicate with the gunman at some point, but he would not respond, according to Director Escalon.

Officers waited for a janitor to bring keys to the classroom so they could make entry, which occurred at 12:50 p.m., WPXI reported.

Parents outside the school were seen arguing with officers and pleading with them to go inside the building as the shooting occurred, but officials said additional officers were already inside the building at the time.

Director McCraw said that with “the benefit of hindsight,” he can say the on-site commander made a grave mistake by not storming the room sooner, NBC News reported.

The shooter fired off nearly 150 rounds between the time he entered the school and the time he was shot, according to WPXI.

A total of 315 rounds – 142 of which were spent – were found inside the school, Director McCraw said.

Police said the gunman had purchased a total of 1,657 rounds of ammunition.

Investigators said they recovered 58 magazines at the school in the wake of the shooting, including three that the gunman had on his body, five that were on the ground, one that was in his weapon, and eight that were inside the classroom and the adjoining room, NBC News reported.

Another 32 magazines were found outside the building on school property, WPXI reported.

Fifteen were in the crashed truck, and two more were found at the suspect’s residence, according to police.

Director McCraw said there were 35 spent law enforcement cartridges found inside the school.

On Sunday, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced it would be conducting a review of the law enforcement response to Robb Elementary School.

Written by
Sandy Malone

Managing Editor - Twitter/@SandyMalone_ - Prior to joining The Police Tribune, Sandy wrote the Politics.Net column for the Wall Street Journal and was managing editor of Campaigns & Elections magazine. More recently, she was an internationally-syndicated columnist for Conde Nast (BRIDES), The Huffington Post, and Monsters and Critics. Sandy is married to a retired police captain and former SWAT commander.

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Written by Sandy Malone

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