iluna@valleytowncrier.com

RIO GRANDE VALLEY/EDINBURG - Gustavo Garcia, 18 from San Juan was arraigned on Tuesday, Feb. 11, before Judge Toribio “Terry” Palacios after making threats to several local Valley high schools. Among those schools were Edinburg’s Robert Vela, PSJA’s Bear and North Early College high school and others.

“The other one, we’re not sure,” said Edinburg CISD police chief, Ricardo Perez. “It was just two letters of the alphabet so we don’t know exactly what those letters were.”

Garcia is charged with terroristic threat and exhibition, use, or threat of exhibition or use of firearms, both third-degree felonies. Each charge is $250,000, totaling half a million and has hired an attorney.

The 18-year-old’s threat was made via Snapchat that prompted Robert Vela HS to go under lockdown and even alerted McAllen ISD.

McAllen ISD sent a mass email to its students, parents and staff reading in part:

“At no time, were any McAllen schools threatened. The person making the threat is in custody. Again, there was no threat made to a McAllen ISD campus.”

ECISD’s chief Perez confirmed that Garcia was not a student with Edinburg and is unsure if he is a current student with any other school districts.

Perez told the press that PSJA-ISD’s police department also filed the same charges as ECISD’s.

“PSJA-ISD police also charged this individual as a result of the threats he posted on social media."

In apprehending Garcia, chief Perez shares how ECISD PD got the alert and advises to report acts like these immediately. “Our students received that information (Garcia’s Snapchat posting) and quickly alerted our campus administration and our police. Police forwarded that information to the investigations division - we have a threat assessment team who reviewed the information and felt that it was terrorist in nature and called Texas Rangers for assistance.”

For situations similar to Garcia’s or others, “all schools need to have a threat assessment team,” Perez said. “We have team 1 which is an administration team and team 2 at the campus level. Once that information comes from team 1 it is reported to team 2 and we asset it very quickly.”

Having a threat assessment team in place in all school districts was passed by the Texas Legislature in 2019 under Senate Bill 11.

As part of Garcia’s conditions, he is not allowed to “use any type of social media or telephone and any internet,” said Judge Palacios. “That’s going to be the conditions for you and if we find out that you are on those social [platforms], I will revoke your bond.”

Although Garcia’s motive was not mentioned at the time, sources say he planned on getting back at bullies from those high schools.