Police chief explains McClatchy shooting threat, what is the correct reaction
Rumors of an imminent school shooting at C.K. McClatchy High School prompted scores of students to stay home Tuesday and police to send extra officers to the campus even as officials said they had found no credible threat of violence.
In a press conference Tuesday morning, Police Chief Daniel Hahn offered little information about what started the rumors of potential violence, which spread on social media channels like Snapchat and Nextdoor. He said police contacted a student but he was not arrested. As of Tuesday morning, he no longer attended the Land Park campus.
In an interview later Tuesday, police spokesman Sgt. Vance Chandler said the FBI contacted the department on Friday after receiving a tip about a threat at McClatchy.
Department investigators took to social media and contacted the student to investigate those allegations. The department ultimately found the threat was not credible and took no legal action.
“Basically there was rumors of an alleged threat and after our investigation, that’s what we ruled,” Chandler said. He declined to release any more details about what prompted the rumors.
“As far as the specific details of what we have and everything, that’s in the hands of the investigators right now,” he said.
Sacramento City Unified School District spokesman Alex Barrios declined to provide any information about why the student was no longer in school. “We don’t share that information publicly; those are protected records,” he said.
Hahn said “rumors spread and extended among the campus” and eventually reached concerned parents. One such report to police included the possibility of gun violence on campus during fifth period on Tuesday, Hahn said.
Parents and community members expressed concern in social media posts, including one on Nextdoor that gained significant traction.
Attendance was down by about 100 students at McClatchy on Tuesday morning. Additional parents arrived to pull their kids out of the school, Barrios said.
DeeAnne McCallin stayed at McClatchy High after dropping her daughter off at nearby California Middle School. Her older daughter, a McClatchy freshman, stayed home Tuesday morning watching videos of Emma Gonzalez, a survivor of last week’s mass shooting in Florida who has emerged as an activist.
“(I’m) not shocked, sadly,” said McCallin, who found out about the threats via robocall at 6 a.m. “It could be any high school.”
Sonjhia Lowery hesitantly let her daughter, a junior at McClatchy, attend classes Tuesday after receiving the green light from the district. After seeing social media posts about a possible shooter on Monday night, Lowery said, she initially wanted her to stay home.
Lowery positioned herself at a desk in McClatchy’s entryway to calm worried parents and answer questions before heading off to her job Tuesday morning as an administrator at Elk Grove Unified School District. She fumed as students discussed how to protect themselves in the event of a shooting,
“Kids shouldn’t have to come to school and have those kind of conversations,” Lowery said. “In no other country does this happen at the magnitude or rate or devastation that we see happen in our own country, and I think that we’re all complicit.”
Three school resource officers were assigned to McClatchy High on Tuesday, along with additional patrol officers for extra security. That quelled some concerns for 17-year-old McClatchy senior Danny Harmetz, who received a Snapchat warning him not to attend school Tuesday.
“I was talking to my dad, and he said, ‘Well, there should be a lot of police there,’ ” Harmetz said. “So it might be one of the safest days, technically. I mean, I’m here.”
Hahn said it is not unusual to hear threats of copy cat shooters after mass slayings on school campuses like the one in Florida last week that killed 17. The department has received three or four different reports of threats since the Florida shootings. Aside from the McClatchy scare, Hahn described the other reports as vague and not necessarily tied to a specific campus. None were deemed credible.
“The message to students on campus is anytime you suspect, think something is unusual, or see or hear something, report,” Hahn said. “If it ends up being nothing, then its nothing. But at least we’ve looked into it.”
Administrators and law enforcement personnel investigated Florin High School in late January after rumors of a student preparing to harm others, Elk Grove Unified School District spokeswoman Xanthi Pinkerton said Tuesday. Though the alleged threat did not specifically reference guns and no lockdown was issued, the student in question was detained until the rumor was determined unsubstantiated.
A Tulare County student was arrested Tuesday morning after allegedly announcing plans to harm students at a Porterville middle school, four days after an 18-year-old Fresno man was arrested on suspicion of threatening to bring an AR-15 rifle to a nearby high school. In the Central Coast city of Santa Maria, two students were investigated last week after allegedly planning to shoot up the city’s high school the day after the Parkland massacre.
Sacramento police deployed additional resources to schools all over the city on Tuesday to provide a sense of additional security for students, Hahn said. Jorge Aguilar, the Sacramento City Unified School District superintendent, said the district will continue to take any future reports of violence seriously, and encouraged parents to talk to students about appropriate social media posts.
Police and school administrators are prepared to talk about the reported threat during a community forum scheduled at the campus on Wednesday afternoon, though the forum will primarily focus on a racially charged science fair project displayed by a student in the school’s elite magnet program, Barrios said.