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Gun-toting schoolboy lied about racial threats, El Monte police say

October 15, 2009 |  8:53 am

El Monte police said a 13-year-old boy lied when he told investigators he had taken two loaded handguns to school to protect himself from gang members who were making death threats against him because he is black.

Instead, the boy “wanted to show the guns off to kids at school,” said Lt. Santos Hernandez of the El Monte Police Department’s detective bureau.

The boy told police he made up the story to avoid harsh punishment, Hernandez said.

“He was remorseful,” Hernandez said.

The boy took the handguns to Durfee Middle School on Oct. 8, and when school officials called police, he told them he was carrying the 9-millimeter and .380 semiautomatic weapons to protect himself from gang members who were harassing him and threatening him off campus.

The boy was booked on suspicion of possession of two firearms on a school campus, police said. But after interviewing him, investigators said, they became suspicious of his story.

“We haven’t had incidents ever in that immediate area of gang members threatening African Americans,” Hernandez said, adding that El Monte records four or five hate crimes a year.

When investigators interviewed him again, the boy admitted he had lied. Authorities said no new charges will be filed, and they hoped the boy had learned his lesson.

“Any time you’re doing a show-and-tell, you have the possibility of an accidental discharge," he said. “There’s a whole wide range of scenarios that could have gone wrong, but thank goodness it didn’t, and thank goodness for school officials who acted quickly by reporting it to us.”

-- Ruben Vives

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