My son Nicholas Ceballos was a Chino Valley student from kindergarten until his high school graduation in 2017. Prior to this incident (“Student detained after gun threats,” March 2, 2018), he had a clean criminal record, no disciplinary issues, and great social and family interaction. Just over a year ago, Nicholas was accused by a student of making threats “to shoot up” his former high school. He was arrested and fingerprinted, suspended from college for a whole semester and declared persona non grata on campus, had to change his major since he now holds a “criminal record,” lost his job, his name was trashed in countless media outlets, spent thousands of dollars on bail and legal representation to be reinstated in college, his dad had to get an evening job to pay for the unexpected expenses; not to mention the ongoing personal, family and social trauma.
Nicholas went to Ayala High School to visit friends from theater. He joined a small group of students who were talking about the recent Parkland tragedy. The topic transitioned into the safety of their school and how vulnerable it was for an attack. Someone, who was not part of the group, overheard my son saying how someone could easily do a lot of harm and took it as he was making an actual threat.
Four or five days later, this student brought the issue to the attention of the school principal. Law enforcement was called in right away, and in a matter of four hours there was a search and arrest warrant for my son. The police investigation found no guns, no means or plan to commit the alleged threat, no social media references to it, no history of disorderly conduct, and no psychological problems. Two witnesses present in the conversation wrote statements saying that no threats were ever made by Nicholas.
The District Attorney did not file charges for lack of evidence. Chino Hills police cleared my son. The University of La Verne reinstated him after their own investigation was concluded.
Nicholas Ceballos is a resilient young person whose life has been changed abruptly. He is determined to clear out his name and redirect his life. He dreamed of being a school counselor but background checks are mandatory for any job in education. He is now pursuing a career in broadcasting and editing. If you happen to see Nick, say hi to him. He has a story to tell. I am very proud of the person he has become.