Police Investigate Threats at Rockville High After Immigration Debate Collides With Rape Case

Caller threatens to shoot 'illegals' at the school

UPDATE: Rape charges against Jose Montano and Henry Sanchez Milian were dropped, prosecutors said May 5, 2017.

Rockville High School received threats Wednesday as the school deals with the rape of a 14-year-old girl by two students, one of whom has an undetermined immigration status.

The case is getting national attention and was addressed by White House press secretary Sean Spicer Tuesday, who said the case is an example of why President Donald Trump is making illegal immigration a priority.

Several threats were phoned into the school throughout the day, the principal reported, and the principal requested an increased police presence on campus, a Montgomery County Public Schools spokesperson said. The caller threatened to bomb the school and take guns to the school to shoot what the caller referred to as “illegals” at the school.

"It's just unacceptable to threaten any student, no matter what their status," Montgomery County Public Schools Superintendent Jack Smith told News4.

Montgomery County Police confirmed the threats and sent police cruisers to patrol the school.

"We take these matters very seriously," Montgomery County Police Assistant Chief Russ Hamill said. "So what we'll do is investigate these appropriately, and if they do amount to criminal behavior we will hopefully be able to hold somebody accountable.” 

Rockville High's principal also asked staff to take attendance throughout each class period and track the time students are out with a hall pass.

Henry E. Sanchez, 18, and Jose O. Montano, 17, are charged with raping the girl in a bathroom stall during school hours at Rockville High School in the D.C. suburbs Thursday, Montgomery County police said.

They approached her in a hallway and asked her to walk with them, police said. Montano asked her for sex, and after she refused, he and Sanchez forced her into a boys' bathroom, where they both raped her and sodomized her, police said.

According to court documents, Sanchez, who admitted to having sex with the victim, has had an immigration case pending since August.

According to court records, Montano, who was charged as an adult, was born in El Salvador, where he lived for 16 years, the Associated Press reported. ICE officials would not discuss Montano's immigration status because he is a juvenile.

"I think part of the reason that the president has made illegal immigration and crackdown such a big deal is because of tragedies like this," Spicer said.

"It is the right of all students, regardless of language, immigration status, to have access to education," said Maritza Solano, director of education for immigration advocacy group CASA.

Help Save Maryland, an organization that says it is dedicated to preserving the state from the negative effects of people in the country illegally, fears it could happen again.

"Now that the unthinkable has happened, do something, and I have not seen or read of anything that they are going to do to prevent another one," said Hessie Harris of Help Save Maryland.

Montgomery County Public Schools Superintendent Jack Smith pledged at a news conference Tuesday he won’t allow the assault to become a political issue.

“While some would try to make this into a question and an issue of immigration, what comes down here is that we serve every student that walks in our door,” he said. “We are a public school system.”

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan also commented on the crime Tuesday.

"I am outraged by the brutal and violent rape of a 14 year old girl in a Rockville public school. Our prayers are with her," Hogan posted in a Facebook statement Tuesday.

He accused the school system of withholding information from the Maryland State Board of Education about the rape and the students involved.

“Montgomery County government and the Montgomery County police are cooperating and the school system is not and it appears as if they have something to hide,” he said.

Smith said all the information they have about the case as of Tuesday afternoon was sent to the state board.

A spokesman for Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett said his administration is cooperating.

“We want to get bad eggs out of our county, basically, but we don’t want our county police enforcing immigration law, but in this case I think everybody can agree that if these folks are convicted that we don’t want them in our county,” Patrick Lacefield said.

Investigators arrested Montano, who is charged as an adult, and Sanchez on school property. They are charged with first-degree rape and two counts of first-degree sexual assault. 

Both suspects were ordered held without bond. They could be sentenced to life in prison if convicted.

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