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Four arrested in attack plot at Hidalgo County school district

Donna ISD Administration Offices
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Donna ISD Administration Offices

Just days after a shooter in Uvalde killed 19 students and 2 teachers at an elementary school, four males–two 17 year-olds and two minors–were arrested on Wednesday for credible threats to Donna Independent School District in Hidalgo County on the Texas-Mexico border.

Nathaniel Seth Montelongo and Barbarito Pantoja, both 17, were charged with conspiracy to commit aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and issued a bond of $750,000 each.

“Our investigators worked diligently in this case–federal, state, and local,” said Gilbert Guerrero, Donna Police Department Chief at a press conference on Thursday. “We are pretty sure that we foiled the plan to whatever was going to happen and it’s not going to happen.”

In accordance with Texas law, the two suspects were charged as adults while the other two individuals under arrest fell under the purview of juvenile law in the state and must go before a juvenile magistrate on Friday.

Authorities did not release any additional information about the ongoing investigation.

The Monitor newspaper in McAllen reported on Thursday that a source close to the investigation said law enforcement officers found an AK-47 assault rifle and a “hit list” of targets in the possession of the arrested individuals.

However, Guerrero said on Thursday that there was no list of targets. “There was supposedly some rumors going around, but there was no such thing,” he explained.

A source at the Donna Police Department told TPR they could not provide any information on whether any type of weapon has been found until after the investigation is complete.

The investigation, which began when authorities received an anonymous tip on Tuesday, is part of an operation between the district, the city police, and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF).

Donna Independent School District shut down all campuses until after the Memorial Day weekend shortly after police received the tip.

“In light of the recent events and in an abundance of caution, we will be canceling school district-wide and staff will work from home,” said Donna ISD in a statement. “The safety and security of our students and staff is our first priority. Classes will resume on Tuesday morning.”

The Donna School District police department did not respond to TPR’s request for comment.

District administrators told TPR some staff are still working from home through Friday, but would not make themselves available until next week.

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Pablo De La Rosa is a freelance journalist reporting statewide with Texas Public Radio and nationally with NPR from the Texas-Mexico border in the Rio Grande Valley, from where he originates. He’s the host of the daily Spanish-language newscast TPR Noticias Al Día.