Crisis response counselors to visit Torrey Pines High School following death of student in officer involved shooting
SAN DIEGO (KUSI) — Students and staffers at Torrey Pines High School began their week Monday under a pall of grief and sorrow over the death of a suicidal student who was shot by police when he pointed a BB pistol during a Saturday predawn confrontation at the campus.
Counselors and psychologists were called to the Carmel Valley school to offer support and guidance to anyone needing help in coping with the traumatic death of the 15-year-old youth, who was enrolled at the campus.
A makeshift memorial commemorated the loss with cards and flowers at the shooting site, and some students wore yellow to their classes as a means of promoting suicide awareness.
Authorities have withheld the name of the boy who died in the shooting, but friends have identified him to news crews as Torrey Pines freshman Jacob Peterson.
During the boy’s autopsy, investigators found a suicide note in his jacket pocket, according to San Diego police.
"The note indicates the (boy) planned the incident that resulted in his death,” SDPD Lt. Mike Holden said.
Officers were sent to the Del Mar Heights Road campus about 3:30 a.m. Saturday in a response to a request to check on the welfare of a 15-year-old boy.
Arriving at the school, Officers Gilbert Flores and Kai Johnson spotted the teen in a parking lot in front of the school. As they approached, he pulled what appeared to be a firearm from his waistband and pointed it at one of them, ignoring orders to drop the weapon, Holden said.
As he began to advance on one of the lawmen, both of them opened fire. Medics took the teen to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Following the shooting, investigators determined that the boy had been wielding a BB pistol and that he had made the call that brought officers to the school.
Flores, a 28-year veteran of the San Diego Police Department, and Johnson, who has been with the SDPD for four years, have been placed on desk duty pending completion of investigations in the case.
On the school’s Facebook page, Principal Rob Coppo wrote that the aftermath of the boy’s death "will be challenging for us all.”
"As a community, we will need to support each other and unite as a … family,” Coppo stated.
In a statement released Monday morning, the boy’s mother said her family was "mourning the loss of a loving and wonderful young man. We ask that you respect our privacy as we remember him and all he meant to us.”
The boy’s peers described him to reporters as a kind and caring person.
Principal Coppo’s full letter:
Dear Falcon Families,
It is with a heavy heart that I contact you with an update about the incident at Torrey Pines High School yesterday morning. As you have likely heard in the news, one of our students lost his life this weekend in an early morning officer-involved shooting on our campus. This tragic event has affected us all deeply, and I’m sure you have many questions and concerns. I have been in close contact with our SDUHSD leadership team to ensure that we have a safe, supportive environment for our students tomorrow.
As educators, we touch the lives of thousands of students during our careers, and while we hope and pray to never experience what we are experiencing right now, it is important that we are prepared to serve our students and community in times like these. The next few days will be challenging for us all, and over the coming weeks, we will face additional challenges. As a community, we will need to support each other and unite as a Falcon family. Now more than ever, we are TP.
At this time, I have no additional details regarding the incident that haven’t already been reported in the news. After speaking with the student’s family yesterday, I am respecting their wishes and refraining from sharing the student’s name, or any personal details about him. As you can imagine, the family is going through an extremely difficult time, and I offered our full support for anything they need. The family is appreciative of our efforts, and is simply asking that we respect their privacy at this time.
In order to best support our students and staff tomorrow and in the coming days, we will have additional counselors on site, as well as members of our SDUHSD leadership team. We have a crisis response protocol that has been distributed to all staff, and we are prepared to address any media inquiries. While tomorrow will be far from the usual Monday routine, it is our hope that we can maintain a sense of supportive normalcy as we work through this difficult time.
Our staff will have a meeting before school tomorrow where I will address our protocol for serving our students, how to deal with media inquiries, and any other general questions. Our meeting will be short so we can all be out on campus to be with our students.
Thank you for your support for our school, and for your efforts to help us all through this difficult time.
Principal, Torrey Pines High School