Nathaniel Montelongo (pictured) and Barbarito Pantoja, both 17, were arrested and charged with conspiracy to commit aggravated assault with a deadly weapon
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Two 17-year-old boys were among four people arrested for plotting an AK-47 massacre at a school in southern Texas.

Nathaniel Montelongo and Barbarito Pantoja, both 17, were arrested and charged with conspiracy to commit aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. They are being held on a $750,000 bond and their mugshots were released Thursday evening. 

Two other students, both minors, were also arrested in connection to the plot and will face a judge on Friday, The Brownsville Herald reported.

The four were arrested after police in Donna, a small community in the Rio Grande Valley, received an anonymous type that they were planning to attack the school. Officials declined to reveal which district campus was targeted in the plot.

A source familiar with the investigation told the newspaper on Wednesday that cops had found an AK-47 and a list of targeted students in the home of one of the suspects. 

However, on Thursday police denied the existence of the alleged hit list and refused to provide any details about a potential weapons seizure, citing that the information was ‘critical to the case’ and ‘will not be disseminated.’

News of the plot, which prompted a shutdown order at the school late Wednesday, came a day after a gunman slaughtered 19 kids and two teachers at an elementary in Uvalde, about 300 miles north of Donna.

Nathaniel Montelongo (pictured) and Barbarito Pantoja, both 17, were arrested and charged with conspiracy to commit aggravated assault with a deadly weapon

Nathaniel Montelongo (pictured) and Barbarito Pantoja, both 17, were arrested and charged with conspiracy to commit aggravated assault with a deadly weapon

Montelongo and Pantoja (pictured) are two of four suspects arrested for plotting an AK-47 massacre at a school in Donna, Texas. The other suspected conspirators are minors and will face a juvenile magistrate on Friday

Montelongo and Pantoja (pictured) are two of four suspects arrested for plotting an AK-47 massacre at a school in Donna, Texas. The other suspected conspirators are minors and will face a juvenile magistrate on Friday

Police held a press conference on Thursday announcing the arrests.

‘We stopped an act of physical violence and harm on our students,’ Donna Police Department Chief Donald Crist said during the briefing.

He said the two adult males, referring to Montelongo and Pantoja, had been arraigned, but noted the other suspects would face a juvenile magistrate.

Authorities, who reiterated that the threat against the school was ‘credible,’ denied the rumors circulating on social media about a list targeting specific students. 

‘There was no target list. There was supposedly some rumors going around, but there was no such thing,’ Police Chief Gilbert Guerrero said, according to KVEO-TV.

The chief added that the incident remains under investigation and encouraged parents to be more observant of their children.

‘Keep an eye on your kids, make sure about what they’re doing. Look at what they have in their rooms, be vigilant,’ he said. 

Officials also stated they believe Donna students are safe within the district due to the additional support of several law enforcement agencies.

The district had cancelled classes on Thursday and Friday after the school shooting threat prompted a lockdown on Wednesday. School will resume next Tuesday following the Memorial Day holiday. 

Officials in Donna, Texas, a small community in the Rio Grande Valley, shut down school after a 'credible threat' of a shooting plot

Officials in Donna, Texas, a small community in the Rio Grande Valley, shut down school after a ‘credible threat’ of a shooting plot

Officials in Donna, a small community in the Rio Grande Valley, issued the shutdown order late on Wednesday

Officials in Donna, a small community in the Rio Grande Valley, issued the shutdown order late on Wednesday

The conspirators’ plot involved shooting up a school in the district, a source familiar with the matter told The Monitor. 

The insider also alleged cops found an AK-47 and a list of targeted students in the home of one of the suspects. Authorities have denied the list and refused to comment on the alleged seized gun.

While the AK-47 gained fame as a Soviet-era machine gun, there are semi-automatic versions of the rifle that are legal for private ownership in the U.S.

The Donna Independent School District confirmed the threat in a statement on Wednesday, saying: ‘We’ve received a credible threat of violence that is currently under investigation. In light of the recent events and in an abundance of caution, we will be cancelling school district-wide and staff will work from home.’

The cancelled school days will impact a number of end-of-year awards ceremonies and advancement celebrations in Donna’s elementary school, according to the school calendar.

The district’s high school graduation is scheduled for June 3. 

In a social media post, officials said that the senior class prom, which had been scheduled for Friday with the theme of ‘Enchanted Forest’ after two years of pandemic disruptions, would be postponed, but not cancelled.

Donna ISD administrative offices are seen above. The alleged plot in Donna involved a conspiracy between two or three people who planned to shoot up a school in the district

Donna ISD administrative offices are seen above. The alleged plot in Donna involved a conspiracy between two or three people who planned to shoot up a school in the district

The disturbing investigation in Donna came just one day after the deadliest school shooting in the U.S. since the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Connecticut nearly a decade ago.

On Tuesday, a gunman killed 19 children and two teachers at Robb Elementary in Uvalde, after shooting his grandmother in the face in a dispute over his phone bill.

The shooter, identified as Salvador Rolando Ramos, 18, was killed by police after barricading himself inside a classroom and slaughtering the fourth graders inside. 

Ramos was trading text messages with a girl in Germany and sent the chilling final message ‘Ima go shoot up a elementary school’ minutes before the attack. 

The gunman shot his 66-year-old grandmother in the face at their Uvalde home, then fled in her pickup truck as she summoned help, officials said.

A short distance away, Ramos crashed the truck outside the school, got out with a rifle and approached a back door, officials said. 

They said an officer assigned to the school ‘engaged’ Ramos, but the gunman got into the building and down a hallway to a fourth-grade classroom. 

After locking the classroom door, he opened fire around 11.30am with an AR-15-style rifle, carrying multiple magazines.

A team including local officers and Border Patrol agents ultimately forced the door open and shot Ramos to death after he fired at them, police said.

Salvador Ramos legally purchased two AR-15 style rifles including the one he used in yesterday's attack after his 18th birthday last week. The gunman also bought more than 300 rounds of ammunition

Salvador Ramos legally purchased two AR-15 style rifles including the one he used in yesterday's attack after his 18th birthday last week. The gunman also bought more than 300 rounds of ammunition

Salvador Ramos legally purchased two AR-15 style rifles (right) including the one he used in Tuesday’s attack after his 18th birthday last week. The gunman also bought more than 300 rounds of ammunition 

The threat in Donna came just a day after a shooter killed 19 kids and two teachers at Robb Elementary, seen above on Thursday morning

The threat in Donna came just a day after a shooter killed 19 kids and two teachers at Robb Elementary, seen above on Thursday morning

The above graphic details the timeline of Tuesday's massacre that left 19 children and two teachers dead at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas

The above graphic details the timeline of Tuesday’s massacre that left 19 children and two teachers dead at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas

President Joe Biden called for stricter gun laws following the Tuesday massacre: ‘Gun manufacturers have spent two decades aggressively marketing assault weapons which make them the most and largest profit.’

‘For God’s sake, we have to have the courage to stand up to the industry.’

Ramos had legally purchased two semi-automatic rifles from a local outdoor and hunting store, according to officials and multiple news reports.

‘The idea that an 18-year-old kid can walk into a gun store and buy two assault weapons is just wrong,’ Biden said on Tuesday. ‘As a nation, we have to ask: When in God’s name will we stand up to the gun lobby?’

He added: ‘Why are we willing to live with this carnage? Why do we keep on letting this happen? Where in God’s name is our backbone?’

Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said Thursday he is ashamed the U.S. is ‘becoming desensitized to the murder of children’ and that action is needed now to prevent more lives from being lost in school shootings. 

‘After Columbine, after Sandy Hook, after Parkland, after each of these and other massacres, we as educators did our best to look parents in their eyes and assure them that we’ll do everything to protect their babies,’ Cardona said, referencing school shootings in Colorado, Connecticut and Florida.

President Joe Biden called for stricter gun laws following the Tuesday massacre. He is pictured at the White House on Wednesday

President Joe Biden called for stricter gun laws following the Tuesday massacre. He is pictured at the White House on Wednesday

Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said Thursday he is ashamed the U.S. is 'becoming desensitized to the murder of children' and that action is needed now to prevent more lives from being lost in school shootings. Cardona is pictured in April 2022

Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said Thursday he is ashamed the U.S. is ‘becoming desensitized to the murder of children’ and that action is needed now to prevent more lives from being lost in school shootings. Cardona is pictured in April 2022

But he said all the actions taken in response to those earlier school shootings – including active shooter drills, online early detection tools and more secure building entrances and perimeters – ‘are no match for what we’re up against.’

Providing no specifics, he said, ‘we need action now’ to protect America’s children. ‘Let’s not normalize this,’ he said. ‘Let’s use every ounce of influence that we have to get something done to help prevent this from happening again.’

Cardona told lawmakers that he would be ‘failing you as secretary of education if I didn’t tell you I was ashamed, I am, that we as a country are becoming desensitized to the murder of children. I’d be failing you as secretary of education if I didn’t use this platform to say that students and teachers and school leaders are scared.’

The Cabinet member did not go as far as his boss, Biden, who has previously had called for a ban on assault-style weapons, tougher federal background check requirements and laws aimed at keeping guns out of the hands of people with mental health problems.

The fight over guns has largely been split on party lines. Senate Republicans on Thursday blocked a domestic terrorism bill that would have opened debate on gun safety.

Rather than regulate guns, some Republicans have proposed arming teachers to deter school shootings. Cardona rejected that idea.

‘And the solution of arming teachers, in my opinion, is further disrespect to a profession that’s already beleaguered and not feeling the support of so many folks,’ he said.

Guns are the leading cause of death for US kids, data shows 

Gun violence is now the leading killer of America’s children, surpassing accidents, disease and even drug overdose, a report published last month found.

Researchers at the University of Michigan, in Ann Arbor, write that over 4,300 children aged one to 19 years old died of a firearm related injury during the pandemic’s first year – a 30 percent jump from the previous year.

2020 was the first year that gun violence overtook vehicle crashes as a leading killer.

Gun violence is now the leading killer off American youth, a research report finds, surpassing motor vehicle crashes (file photo)

The researchers, who published their findings in the New England Journal of Medicine on in April, found that there was a record 45,222 firearm deaths in 2020. 

Overall there was a 13.5 percent jump in firearm deaths, including a 33 percent jump in gun-related homicides year-to-year.

Suicides carried out by using firearms also increased one percent, remaining around even year-to-year.

The data also showed that just around six out of every 100,000 U.S. children died a fire alarm related death in 2020, surpassing a the five of every 100,000 children that died from the motor vehicle accident.

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