A 17-year-old male Fremont High School student was in police custody after allegedly sending violent, anti-Semitic threats via Instagram to a number of Jewish students at Fremont High School in Sunnyvale and Homestead High School in Cupertino.
A parent of one of the students who received the offending message over the Labor Day weekend forwarded a screenshot of it to J. The message originally was sent from an Instagram account with the name “Jewslaughter.” It reads: “Jews disgust me, I’ll f***ing kill you. I got connections to the aryan brotherhood gang. You and the rest of your people are dead.”
Sunnyvale Police Capt. Shawn Ahearn confirmed to J. that the suspect, who was not identified because of his age, was arrested on Sept. 5.
“We used tools available to us to find out the internet IP address, tied it to him and went to his home,” Ahearn said. “There is a lot of evidence we collected, and we are combing through it all to see if any previous messages were sent.”
Ahearn told the Mercury News that the teen was booked into Santa Clara County Juvenile Hall on suspicion of hate-crime and criminal threats offenses.
Though Sunnyvale police maintain routine patrols at Fremont High School, Ahearn said the department added more officers this week.
“We want to make sure everyone feels secure,” he said. “Our No. 1 priority is the safety of the students.”
Fremont High School principal Bryan Emmert posted several letters to parents on the school’s website, one of which noted that Sunnyvale police do not “anticipate any of these threats being valid,” and another that read in part, “The safety of students and staff remains our top priority. School counselors will be available to provide assistance to any students experiencing stress over this situation.”
Seth Brysk, the S.F.-based director of the Anti-Defamation League’s Central Pacific Region, told the Mercury News that such threats are not frequent “but are happening with more and more frequency” as the nation heads into a presidential election in which identity politics have played a key role.
“We’ve see an uptick in these kinds of incidents in and around the campaign,” Brysk told the Mercury News, adding that youngsters can be influenced by vitriol they hear from their elders and that such influences can be neutralized with education.
“Assuming this was a minor who put out this message, it’s a message they’re hearing and repeating from elsewhere,” he told the newspaper. “What we like to say in our anti-bias diversity programs at schools is that hate is something that is learned. And if it can be learned, it can be unlearned.”