With suspect in custody, police detail threats that closed San Gabriel Elementary

Oct 14, 2015

Slightly more than a month after a threat temporarily closed down an Atascadero grade school, investigators now say they have a suspect in custody. 

Credit Atascadero Police Department

San Gabriel Elementary was shut down for two weeks in September as the FBI tested a liquid substance placed on school grounds. Police said the brown liquid was sodium ferrocyanide, held in a glass candle holder.

Atascadero Police Chief Jerel Haley said the solution was not strong enough to produce a vaporized form of cyanide, which would have been far more dangerous.

Letters placed around the school had language similar to the horror movie "Saw." Padlocks were placed on school gates, and teachers were instructed to find the keys as part of a 'game.'

Chief Haley said this was the most complex case he has ever seen.

"The complexity of planning and follow through that the suspect used in committing the crime, putting letters out for each of the rooms, each of the teachers, taking steps to chain and padlock the gates of the school, making an improvised device that was like a message of mass destruction,...somebody has taken some extraordinary steps," said Chief Haley.

Credit Atascadero Police Department

Investigators said the a 17-year-old boy is a local high school student. He is being held at the juvenile facility in San Luis Obispo and is the sole suspect in this case. 

District Attorney Dan Dow said his office is not sure whether conditions exist for charging the boy as an adult.

Investigators say items purchased for the crime were traced back to the suspect. Haley said the two search warrants used Wednesday morning provided even more evidence to back up the investigation.