A 16-year-old boy was charged with making bomb threats and other weapons violations Friday following an incident near Goleta that led to the evacuation of the Turnpike Shopping Center and the lockdown of nearby San Marcos High School. according to the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department.
The incident began at about 8:30 a.m., when police in Washington state contacted the Sheriff’s Department seeking help locating a “missing at-risk juvenile” with ties to the local area, said sheriff’s spokeswoman Kelly Hoover.
“The 16-year old had taken a family car without permission, and was believed to be visiting friends in the area,” Hoover said.
At about 10:30 a.m., deputies located the teen in the shopping center parking lot at Hollister Avenue and Turnpike Road east of Goleta.
Deputies took him into custody, Hoover said, “and while he was being detained, he made allegations that there were explosive devices in his vehicle.”
The high school was locked down as a precaution around 10:45 a.m., but the lockdown was later lifted and “all students and staff are safe,” according to an update from the Santa Barbara Unified School District issued at 1:17 p.m.
The department’s Bomb Squad was called in, Hoover said, and searched the vehicle.
“Several simulated devices and a modified air soft gun were retrieved,” she said. “The orange tip of the air soft gun had been removed making it look like a real firearm. The simulated devices were potentially functional and could have been dangerous.”
The teen underwent a mental examination, then was transported to Santa Barbara County Juvenile Hall, Hoover said.
The case has been forwarded to the District Attorney’s Office, Hoover said.