Teen Who Threatened School Violence Now Accused of ‘Inappropriate’ Social Media Posts
Former student previously pledged to “shoot up” Walter Johnson High; faced probation violation charge
VIA MONTGOMERY COUNTY POLICE
A former Walter Johnson High School student convicted of threatening mass violence at the Bethesda school was in court Thursday after prosecutors said he violated probation by harassing witnesses online.
Luis Cabrera, 19, was sentenced in June to five years of probation after he posted photos of himself with assault rifles on the social media platform Snapchat. He captioned the photos “I hate WJ” and “Ha, Ha, I’m going to shoot up the school.”
Twice in the three weeks following his sentencing, Cabrera posted on Snapchat and Instagram court documents associated with his case.
In the first instance, on June 17, two pages were posted on Cabrera’s Snapchat account with the caption “dumbest case of all time” and the names of two witnesses written on them. The names had been redacted in official court documents to protect their identities.
Then, on June 30, Cabrera posted an altered version of the charging documents that included the names of three Walter Johnson students who were witnesses in the case and included a quote not listed in in the original document that read, “Only white people shoot up schools.” The document was altered “in a manner to make it look authentic,” according to recent court records.
The Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office filed a motion alleging Cabrera violated his probation with the posts because the photos were “indirect contact” with the witnesses. One condition of his probation was to not have contact with witnesses or Walter Johnson High School staff members.
“There could be no other purpose to posting these images with the witnesses’ names on social media, other than to harass, annoy, embarrass and bring distress to these protected individuals,” State’s Attorney John McCarthy wrote in court documents. He asked the court to issue a warrant for Cabrera’s arrest.
At a hearing on Thursday, Circuit Court Judge Margaret Schweitzer ruled that, during sentencing, she had not explicitly restricted what Cabrera did with the court documents.
However, she told Cabrera if he continued to make “inappropriate” social media posts, she would charge him with violating his probation, according to court records.
“We believe that, in an abundance of caution, the actions taken today in the matter of State v. Luis Cabrera are part of our on-going concern about threats of mass violence,” Ramon Krionoff, a spokesman for the State’s Attorney’s Office, said in a statement. “We will keep a close watch on those who would threaten our students with violence and take appropriate actions to hold the perpetrators accountable.”
Attorneys for Cabrera said in court records that although they did not believe the posts violated his probation, his counsel “appreciates and understands” prosecutors’ concerns.
“Therefore, counsel has advised Mr. Cabrera, in the strongest terms allowed … that such expressions are ill-advised and likely not productive toward conveying any intellectual idea that might be intended,” according to court documents. “Mr. Cabrera indicated he intends to follow counsel’s advice.”
His attorneys say that despite “multiple disciplinary incidents” while a student at Walter Johnson, Cabrera “wishes no ill will toward any student or staff member.”
In February 2018, Cabrera was suspended from the school after he was caught hiding alcohol in a bathroom ceiling during a school dance. After he was suspended, Cabrera dropped out of school and posted a comment on social media saying, “I hope everyone at Walter Johnson dies.”
The comment was reported and he received a mental health evaluation, according to court documents. He was determined to not be a threat to himself or others.
He began working full-time at a local grocery store and moved into an apartment with two other men. Those men lawfully owned assault rifles and were unaware Cabrera was taking pictures of himself with the guns to “essentially show off,” court documents say.
Cabrera told police he has never been to a gun range or shot a firearm.
His attorneys say his comments about “shooting up” Walter Johnson were intended to be “sarcastic” and the issue is “frequently the subject of jokes and sarcasm” among students.
Cabrera now attends classes five days per week at the Blair Ewing Center to obtain his GED. He is scheduled to begin community service this month. He was sentenced to complete 100 hours.
He was also ordered to wear an ankle monitor for nine months to ensure he does not go within 1,000 feet of Walter Johnson High School.
Caitlynn Peetz can be reached at email@example.com