"[The student] was angry about a teacher's issue about his earphones in class," said security officer Marino Chavez who helped thwart the attack

By Karen Mizoguchi
February 21, 2018 11:14 PM

Two days after the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre in Florida that left 17 people dead, a security officer at a California high school helped prevent an alleged copycat shooting.

School resource deputy Marino Chavez was patrolling the campus of El Camino High School in Whittier during the lunch break on Friday, like he does every day, when he says he overheard a student’s abnormal remark about a plot to attack the school.

“I guarantee you the school will be shot up in three weeks,” the 17-year-old student allegedly said, according to Chavez who spoke at Wednesday’s press conference with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

Chavez recalled confronting the student about his comment to which the teenager claimed he was joking. “He didn’t appear scared, but he was like, ‘Well, I didn’t mean it.’ I said, ‘I know you students say a lot of things. But you can’t be saying these words,’ ” the 26-year security veteran said of the student who police allege has an extensive disciplinary record.

Adding, “He was angry about a teacher’s issue about his earphones in class. He was not allowed to go to her class the next day so he was supposed to go the office.”

Chavez promptly alerted authorities after bringing the student into the school administration office where the teenager allegedly confirmed his comment.

Marino Chavez
| Credit: Reed Saxon/AP/REX/Shutterstock

Sheriff Jim McDonnell said deputies from the Norwalk Sheriff’s Department responded by launching an investigation and serving a search warrant to the student’s home where a Smith and Wesson semiautomatic rifle was registered to the address. Authorities also discovered two AR-15 semiautomatic rifles, two pistols, 90 high-capacity magazines, and ammunition inside the residence, the sheriff said.

An AR-15 was used by the 19-year-old gunman in the Parkland, Florida, mass shooting on Feb. 14.

McDonnell said the student, who was arrested for making a criminal threat, was “moving in the direction” of an attack.

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Weapons discovered at the student’s home

The student’s older brother, 28-year-old Army veteran Daniel Barcenas, told authorities the weapons belonged to him, however, one of the AR-15 semiautomatic rifles was determined to be unregistered. On Tuesday, Barcenas was arrested and charged with six counts including criminal storage of firearm and failure to register a personal handgun.

“I’m not a hero. I’m just doing my job every day,” Chavez said during the press conference.

Since the Florida school shooting, McDonnell stated there have been at least 19 leads regarding violent threats on school campuses in the area.

“Parents, this should be a wake-up call for all of us. Please, talk to your kids, no matter how young, about the challenges we are facing in society today. If you don’t, someone else will,” McDonnell stressed to parents.