2021 | Courts

Former Kennedy High student sentenced to probation for shooting threat, sexual assault

Judge denies request for probation before judgment

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A former John F. Kennedy High School student was sentenced on Monday to five years of probation for threatening to “shoot up” the school and for sexually assaulting a former classmate who he also posed as when making the threatening calls to Kennedy High.

Jason Salinas, 21, pleaded guilty last month to one count of threatening mass violence for using an internet application to place calls to the school, posing as a woman he sexually assaulted, according to court records.

The same day, in a separate case, he pleaded guilty to fourth-degree sex offense and second-degree assault for incidents in 2018 involving the woman he impersonated.

During the first call to Kennedy High, placed around the school’s dismissal time on Feb. 13, 2020, Salinas told the assistant principal he was “currently inside the school, walking down the hallway toward her office and was going to shoot her and security,” court documents said.

About five minutes later, Salinas called back and said he was across the street at a bus stop and was about to begin shooting.

The school was placed on lockdown and police remained on the scene until classes were dismissed.

Around the same time the next day, Salinas called again, claiming to be a former female student prepared to “shoot up” the school, according to court documents. The school was placed on lockdown while police searched the property.

Police determined that all three calls were made from the same internet protocol address in Prince George’s County, and that an internet phone service was used to make the calls.

Officers then interviewed and reviewed the phone records of the former student Salinas claimed to be in his call to the school on Feb. 14. She was ruled out as a suspect and, after being asked “if she had any issues with anyone that would want to cause trouble with her making the threat claims in her name,” the woman gave Salinas’ name.

She said he had sexually assaulted her on multiple occasions in 2018 and threatened her if she reported the assaults.

During a virtual court hearing on Monday afternoon, Salinas’ attorney, Allen Wolf, asked he be granted probation before judgment, meaning Salinas would be sentenced to probation without the assault and threat of mass violence convictions appearing on his criminal record.

Wolf said Salinas has “limited intellectual ability” and thought the threatening phone calls were a “joke” and he “didn’t really understand the impact of what he had done.”

In reference to the sexual assault, Wolf said Salinas and the victim had a “fairly long history” and he saw the incident as interacting “with his girlfriend, not assaulting her.”

When she rejected his advances and told her father about the assaults, Salinas “was hurt and immature” and threatened her father before calling Kennedy High School and making threats in the victim’s name.

“To him, it was a way of acting out because he was so upset and angry about what happened,” Wolf said. “But he didn’t think he was hurting anyone because he didn’t intend to hurt anyone … and he didn’t take the time to think through the fact that threats can be harmful … even if it’s not what you’re intending to do.”

Aaron Ramirez, an assistant Montgomery County state’s attorney, objected, arguing that the threatening calls to Kennedy High had “real-world impacts” on administrators, students and community members.

Ramirez also said Salinas “checked up on” his threats, and asked a friend who was enrolled as a student if the school was put on lockdown. He said Salinas also checked for media reports about the incident.

“Immaturity is not an excuse for his behavior in this case,” Ramirez said. “… It’s reprehensible and certainly doesn’t warrant a probation before judgment. Whether he thought it was a prank or not, it doesn’t matter.”

Judge Sharon Burrell agreed with prosecutors and did not grant probation before judgment on any of the charges.

Salinas was sentenced to five years of supervised probation.

All prison time was suspended. Salinas was given credit for 509 days already served in jail. He also must register as a sex offender.

Caitlynn Peetz can be reached at caitlynn.peetz@bethesdamagazine.com