Alleged threats disrupt classes at Rio Rancho HS

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RIO RANCHO, N.M. — Following multiple threats of violence at Rio Rancho High School, police say they’ve identified a suspect and are working with the FBI and district attorney’s office to file charges.

The suspect is a juvenile.

The school district sent an email to parents Wednesday, saying the school was on lockout and police heard through a crisis line that someone was headed to campus to cause harm. Then, Thursday, classes were disrupted again because of a bomb threat.

Later in the day, Rio Rancho Public Schools followed up, saying neither threat was credible.

Then, police sent KOB 4 a statement, saying they identified a suspect Thursday – a male juvenile – and had already seized his electronic devices and performed a forensic analysis of those devices. That’s how they connected him to the threats made earlier this week. Police did not say whether the suspect is in custody.

In a separate statement from the district, school officials said hoax threats are not a joke – they are a federal crime that could come with a prison sentence of up to five years.

Letter from Rio Rancho Public Schools:

Dear RRPS Community,

We are writing to let you know that the Rio Rancho Police Department has identified a suspect in the threats of violence recently directed toward Rio Rancho High School. Through diligent investigative efforts, a male juvenile was identified, and contacted by the Rio Rancho Police Department yesterday afternoon. Information was discovered by detectives that led to the seizure of the suspect’s electronic devices. Search warrants for the forensic analysis of those devices were executed, which provided evidence the suspect was directly involved in the threats against our school system.

The Rio Rancho Police Department is working with the FBI and District Attorney’s Office for the filing of criminal charges.

Hoax threats are not a joke and can carry severe consequences. According to the FBI, “Issuing a threat—even over social media, via text message, or through e-mail—is a federal crime (threatening interstate communications). Those who post or send these threats can receive up to five years in federal prison, or they can face state or local charges.”

We appreciate our partnership with our local law enforcement agencies and particularly the Rio Rancho Police Department and FBI, who have been investigating these hoax threats over the last few days and dedicating multiple resources, personnel and countless hours of work to identify the origin of the threats and to ensure the safety of students and staff. 

We also appreciate our Safety and Security Department for their hard work in assisting our law enforcement agencies throughout their investigation, responding to concerns and working hard to keep our schools safe. And to our families, staff members and students who demonstrate continued resilience as we deal with the countless disruptions of hoax threats, we thank you for your trust and cooperation.