Eastside schools locked down after gun threat
Mammoth Schools and Bishop Union High School were locked down Wednesday afternoon for separate gun threats. Both investigations found no guns and no arrests were made.
The parking lots at Mammoth High, Middle and Elementary schools remained open during the lockdown. A group of parents gathered outside the front doors of the elementary school. Three policeman were stationed in the parking lot around the west side of the building.
A mother’s eyes were red and swollen from crying. “I just want to get my daughter,” she said.
There were no law enforcement vehicles parked outside Mammoth Middle School. In that parking lot, a few parents waited in cars.
Outside the front office of Mammoth High School, a cluster of law enforcement SUV’s were parked. Their lights were off. Mammoth Lakes Police Department led the investigation and was assisted by: Mammoth Lakes Fire Department, Mono County Sheriff, California Highway Patrol, EMS, Mono District Attorney Investigators, and Mono County Probation.
For a short time between noon and one o’clock, a California High Patrol officer was stationed right in front of the entrance to the high school. He went inside around 1 p.m. and after that there were no officers stationed outside for the rest of afternoon. Parents waited in their cars in the parking lot. A mother tried to get in through the front door. It was locked.
At 11:43 am, according to a press release from Mammoth Lakes Police Department, a tip was sent through the school’s anonymous tip system, Tip Now, that a student was armed.
After receiving the tip, Mammoth School Resource Officer Daniel Hansen, Superintendent of Mammoth Unified School District Lois Klein, and Mammoth High School Principal Chris Powell made the decision to lock down the schools.
At 12:12 p.m. over its emergency notification system, Mammoth High School announced, “About 10 minutes ago, we received a tip directed at MHS that there might be someone with a gun on campus. The school and all of our schools are on lock down.”
Students hunkered down in their classrooms, before being escorted to the Multi-Purpose Room. From the temporary buildings on the south side of campus, students and staff walked in single file with their hands raised to the entrance to the gym. A sheriff’s officer with a long gun watched the lines file into the gym.
In the Multi-Purpose Room, authorities patted down students for weapons. According to the Mammoth Police press release, the pat downs were only used to search for weapons and no weapons were found. With the students sequestered, authorities searched the classrooms. While they waited, students were fed peanut butter sandwiches and chips. (The menu was disclosed over the emergency text system.)
At 12:45 p.m., after Mammoth Police took a suspect into custody, the lockdown at the elementary school was lifted. At 12:58 p.m., the lockdown at the middle school was lifted. When those lockdowns were lifted, students went home for the day.
The suspect, a high school student, who was was taken into custody during the lockdown, was released from custody later Thursday afternoon.
“The responding officers really performed well. Our teachers were fantastic. Our kids followed directions wonderfully
Lois Klein told The Sheet that the lockdowns at the elementary and middle schools were precautionary. They were initiated because of the close proximity of the campuses.
Students were released at 3:05 p.m.—the regular time when school ends.
“I never thought I’d have to walk through the hallway with my hands up,” senior Emily Galvan said. “I always saw it on the news, but never thought I’d have to go through that.”
Ninth grader Ryan Sandvigen wondered why there was a school shooter “at this tiny school.”
“It was weird,” he added.
Junior Cardiff Smith echoed Sandvigen. “It was weird,” Smith said.
When asked how school on Friday would be, Smith said, “Probably weird.”
“We know who it is. But I don’t know if it’s true,” he said. Smith had to go home and nap before basketball practice.
When asked about the identity of the suspect, the students refused to give a name or didn’t know who it was.
According to the Mammoth Police press release, “The incident had no relationship with the Bishop High School lockdown that started about 10 minutes prior.”
Mammoth Lakes Police Chief Al Davis called it a “weird coincidence.”
Chief Davis told The Sheet that that there was never a threat of violence. The tip told of an armed student.
“There was not any real threat,” Chief Davis said.
Meaning, the student that the tip warned about did not threaten violence against the school, students or teachers. But his being armed presented a threat.
The student who was taken into custody was suspended from school according to Mammoth Principal Chris Powell.
On Friday, when the student decided to return to campus. Mammoth Police arrested the student for trespassing around 1 p.m. When The Sheet went to press the student remained in custody.
In the aftermath, Klein said, “We are stressing with our students that if they see something they should say something,”
When asked about how Thursday morning felt, Powell said, “orderly.”
He recorded a short video of himself to prompt discussion of the incident in morning classes.
Klein and Powell believed the response to the tip and the procedures in place worked.
A Bishop Police Department press release read, “At approximately 11:06 am today, the Bishop Police Department was notified by Bishop Union High School administration that staff may have heard a student in a crowded hallway say that he had a gun. Staff could not determine who had uttered the words.”
Bishop Police did not find a gun. The investigation is ongoing in Bishop.