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2 Santa Rosa teens arrested, assault rifle found during investigation into school fight

Kids in Crisis: Talking about tragedy
Kids in Crisis: Talking about tragedy 04:12

SANTA ROSA – Two Santa Rosa teens were arrested and an assault rifle was found following an investigation into a recent fight on a middle school campus, police said Friday.

According to officers, the investigation stemmed from a fight that took place at Herbert Slater Middle School on September 1. Police said several teens, who were later identified as students of nearby Montgomery High School, entered campus and started a fight with a 13-year-old student.

School officials immediately issued a shelter-in-place order. The suspects fled the school before officers arrived.

Police said the victim was not injured, but did not cooperate with the investigation.

On Tuesday morning, officials at the middle school notified police after discovering a video threat was made to the victim over the Labor Day holiday weekend. Police said the video purportedly showed four individuals brandishing handguns and threatening to beat up the victim.

Two of the people in the video were students of Montgomery High, according to investigators. The video also led investigators to determine that the original fight was gang-related.

In response, officers were placed on both the Slater Middle and Montgomery High campuses.

On Tuesday night, detectives served a search warrant at a home of a 14-year-old Montgomery High student, who was a suspect in the fight. During a search, police found an unregistered AR-15 in the backpack of the suspect's older brother, a 16-year-old who also attended the high school.

Police said the rifle, which was unloaded, had a detachable magazine and a pistol grip. No ammunition for the rifle was found at the home.

AR-15 style rifle that police said was found in the backpack belonging to a 16-year-old in Santa Rosa on September 5, 2023. The teen and his 14-year-old brother were arrested following an investigation into a fight at Herbert Slater Middle School on September 1, 2023. Santa Rosa Police Department

The 14-year-old was arrested and booked into juvenile hall on suspicion of unlawful fighting and committing a public offense for the benefit of a criminal street gang.

Meanwhile, the 16-year-old was booked into juvenile hall for possession of an assault weapon. Police said they do not believe the older brother was involved in the fight at the middle school or the threats towards the victim.

Their names were not released due to their ages.

In a statement Friday, police said they didn't find threats made to the general student body at either campus.

"At no point during this investigation was a threat of an active shooter suspected. This incident is the direct result of an altercation and escalating behavior among specific juveniles," police said.

Safety at Santa Rosa schools has become a growing concern at recent months, particularly at Montgomery High, where a 16-year-old was fatally stabbed inside a classroom in March. Following the stabbing and another incident were students brought knives onto campus, the school's administrators were placed on leave.

Anger over on campus violence has also led to student protests and calls for the school board to increase safety.

"School safety is of the utmost importance to Police Chief John Cregan and all of the Santa Rosa Police Department, and we wish to thank the staff of Slater Middle School and Montgomery High School for their swift actions in the reporting of this incident, cooperation with the investigation, and their efforts to preserve a safe environment for their students and neighboring community," the department said Friday.

Police said that officers assigned to the east side of Santa Rosa will continue to conduct extra patrols at the schools as the investigation continues.

Anyone with information about the case is asked to call the department's Violent Crimes Investigations detectives at 707-543-3595 or to use the online tip line at

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