A 17-year-old accused of making threats to shoot up and bomb Akins High School was released Friday from the Travis County Jail, posting bail on charges that carry the possibility of 10 years in prison, according to court records.
After a campus lockdown and police search, Ariel Alex Ramirez Navarro was taken into custody about 10:25 a.m. Thursday at the Southpark Meadows shopping center in South Austin. He was charged with making a terroristic threat, a third-degree felony.
An arrest affidavit filed Friday says Navarro was a former student at Akins but was no longer enrolled because of a lack of attendance.
The document says students told school authorities Thursday morning that Navarro had shown them weapons and ammunition he carried in a Gucci-style backpack after they got off of a school bus.
The report says police recovered the backpack just before Navarro was booked, and found a loaded magazine, ammunition and smoke bombs.
“The witnesses … had asked the suspect what he was going to do with the items in his backpack and his response to them was, ‘I’m gonna shoot up and blow up the school,’” the affidavit says.
After learning of the threat, administrators ordered students and teachers to shelter in place while officers searched the campus, Navarro’s home and workplace.
After his arrest, police seized ammunition and a loaded magazine from Navarro, but no weapon, police said.
The reported threats led to an hourslong lockdown at the school that prompted parents to arrive in droves to pick up their children. After the incident, students were initially released to their parents in groups of 10 at a time.
District officials said there is an important balance to weigh in such situations between notifying parents as soon as possible and ensuring that any communication won’t complicate or hinder the immediate emergency response on campus.
“We understand our families’ instincts to come to a school to get their student, which is why we have a reunification process,” the school district said Friday. “During an emergency situation we do not recommend people come to the campus for their own safety and to ensure all our staff resources stay focused on the school and the students. Every campus has an Emergency Operations Plan that specifically outlines the reunification process for campuses in the event of an emergency.”
Austin district students’ parents can opt-in for emergency alerts at the beginning of the school year and can update their preferences throughout the year.
While the district said leaders work to get information to parents as quickly as they can, they recognize that they can’t beat the speed at which kids can communicate directly with their parents, and encourage students to send text messages to their families during incidents on campus.
District records obtained by the American-Statesman show that the Austin district has notified parents of at least 16 cases on or near its campuses involving guns or reports of guns over the past two years.
Ten of those incidents involved BB, pellet or toy guns; three involved students being robbed or having a gun pulled on them while walking to or from school; and one was a false alarm. Students brought guns to school in the remaining two incidents.