Crime - Sacto 911

Suspicious device found on McClatchy High School campus rendered safe

Sacramento police say a device found on the McClatchy High School campus Friday was rendered safe, though it remained unclear if the item ever posed a danger.

The Police Department said Friday morning that a suspicious object was found in a restroom by a student at the Land Park neighborhood high school. Students were moved away from the restroom as a precaution but remained on campus.

A police bomb squad went to the school to investigate. At 1:05 p.m. Friday, the police department posted on Twitter that the bomb unit was going to detonate the suspicious device and that a loud noise would be heard in the area around the school on Freeport Boulevard.

About 1:30 p.m., the Police Department reported that the bomb unit was clearing the scene. An investigation was ongoing, and school resource officers were to remain on campus.

As of Friday evening, police had not described the object detonated or said whether it appeared to be an explosive.

Maria Lopez, a school district spokeswoman, said officials used the public address system to notify students of the situation, and staff members assisted in moving them to the front of the building. Automated phone calls were used to alert parents, she said.

Kellianne Saephan, a senior at the school, said a security guard entered her classroom Friday morning and told students they had to evacuate the building.

She and other students in the D wing of the school, a cluster of detached buildings in the northwest corner of the campus where the device was found, were briefly moved to the gym before being placed in various classrooms in the main part of the school, she said.

“It wasn’t really panic, because people didn’t really know what was going on,” Saephan said.

Students were able to leave the classroom with an escort if they needed to go to the bathroom, she said. Most of the information she got about the threat came from social media, Saephan said.

“At first I wasn’t fazed,” she said. “I thought it was another bomb threat. But as it dragged on, it felt more serious.”

Abby Paiva, a senior at McClatchy High, said her first-period class was disrupted by an intercom announcement about a suspicious object in the bathrooms of the D wing.

Students in the D wing were brought to the main buildings, but Paiva and her classmates were told to stay put, she said. The announcements never declared an official lockdown, she said, and teachers and students continued to move around while waiting for updates.

“No one knew what was going on,” Paiva said. “The doors were open. After 30 minutes or so, people were walking down the hallway to go to the bathroom. Teachers were standing outside the doors.”

Eventually, Paiva called her her mom and asked to be picked up early.

Lopez said parents were notified once the situation was deemed safe, and some parents chose to pick up their students. Those students who remained on campus returned to their regular class schedule, Lopez said.

“I was really impressed. The staff performed well to make sure that all were safe, and police were there on the spot,” Lopez said.

In a statement sent to parents Friday afternoon, Peter Lambert, McClatchy High principal, said: “I am very proud of our students and staff for handling this situation calmly and following the protocols that we routinely practice. This morning is a reminder of the importance of the fire and lockdown drills that we do throughout the year.”

Friday’s scare was the second such incident in the past six months.

In September, McClatchy High was evacuated for hours on a weekday morning after a guitar case left in front the school brought a bomb squad to campus.

The guitar case with two guitar foot pedals inside was found to be safe, and students returned to class after 10 a.m., Sacramento police reported at the time.

Police said that at 7 a.m., a male left a guitar case in front of the school near the McClatchy High lion statue.

Freeport Boulevard in front of the school and its front parking lot were closed as a precaution. Students were relocated to the football field or other safe spots while bomb unit personnel examined the guitar case.

Jessica Hice: 916-321-1550, @JesserPea The Bee’s Nashelly Chavez contributed to this report.