Runaway relied on friends to elude capture |

Runaway relied on friends to elude capture

A 15-year-old China Spring runaway was able to avoid capture for five days by living on the street and couch surfing.

John Luna was captured on Thursday night at the Topsy Lane Walmart, after being the topic of an alert that said he’d threatened to commit a school shooting.

Luna was unarmed at the time of his capture 8:30 p.m.

Undersheriff Paul Howell said that investigators didn’t learn that Luna had made the shooting threats until Thursday afternoon, when they followed up to determine their credibility.

“Based on multiple sources of information and our assessment we believed Luna did indeed make the statement,” Howell said Friday. “We were unable to evaluate his ability or intent to follow through with them so we put the safety plan in place in coordination with the Douglas County School District.”

Parents and school district employees received the alert, which was published on news websites around 5:30 p.m. Thursday.

Luna had been spotted by deputies near James Lee Park on Wednesday, but at the time he was listed as a runaway from China Spring Youth Camp, and was able to elude them.

The camp located south of Gardnerville in the Pine Nut Mountains is not a detention facility, Howell said.

“It is a rehabilitation and education center for troubled youth and although they have good accountability if a kid wants to run, they will run,” he said.

Howell said that Luna, who is from Carson Valley, was able to stay with associates whose parents weren’t providing sufficient supervision.

“(That’s why) kids like Luna can hide in plain sight,” Howell said. “Multiple and rapid tips following our release put us right on top of him at the Walmart.”

China Spring opened in 1983 after a community-wide fundraising effort. It expanded to include a girls’ facility named Aurora Pines in 2002. The camp accepts offenders ages 12-18 from every county except Clark, which has its own juvenile program. Those juveniles sent to China Spring cannot be convicted of a felony. The camp’s capacity is around 60.

The last violent act attributed to camp runaways was the 1995 robbery of an angler.